The White Tower

The red traffic light for the pedestrians waiting to cross the road on Alexander the Great Street stays lit for a long time - so you have the chance to take the tower in from another angle too. The prominent building on the edge of the centre on the eastern side of the city is a major landmark and point of reference. The tower was part of the perimeter walls of the city and the point where their eastern section met the sea wall and was used primarily as a defensive bastion. In the 18th century it is referred to as the Fortress of Kalamaria and in the 19th century as the Tower of the Generals and Kanli Kule, that is, the Tower of Blood, because it was a prison of grave offenders and its surface was often stained with blood by frequent executions by the Janissaries. In 1890, while the Ottomans had already begun the process of Europeanising the city, it was whitewashed with lime (by a prisoner, it was said, to regain his freedom) and since then the name White Tower (Beyaz Kule) has remained. The action is considered symbolic, as at that time the sea walls were being demolished and the construction of the seaside began. Until the early 20th century it was surrounded by a low octagonal enclosure, reinforced with octagonal turrets. Inside, there was a retreat for dervishes, ammunition warehouses and a water tank. After the liberation of Thessaloniki, in 1912, the Greek state took over control and it occasionally had various uses. At the beginning of the 20th century the famous café and the "White Tower Theater" were set up in the immediate vicinity, but were demolished in 1954. Today, on the inside there is a permanent exhibition about Thessaloniki from the time of its foundation in 316/15 BC to the present day.