Monday, June 22, 2009

White Tower Thessaloniki

The White Tower, which came to be the symbol of Thessaloniki by coincidence, was built in the late 15th century on the site of an older Byzantine tower, where the eastern wall and the sea wall met.

The White Tower is 33.9 m high and comprises a ground floor and six storeys with a turret at the top. Up until the early 20th century, the Tower was surrounded by a low octagonal wall, which was probably built in 1535/36; three of the corners were reinforced with smaller towers.

The Tower has had many names:
Lion’s Tower, in the 16th century
The Fortress of Kalamaria, in the 18th century
The Janissary Tower in the 19th century
The Blood Tower in 19th century, since it served as a prison and a place of execution for long terms convicts.

Its current name comes to be in 1890, when the Tower was whitewashed by a convict in exchange for his freedom.

After the liberation of Thessaloniki in 1912 and its unification with the Greek state, the White Tower has hosted the city’s air defense, the meteorological laboratory of Aristotle University and various Sea Scout groups.
In 1983, the Tower was ceded to the Ministry of Culture and its restoration began; this project was awarded the Europa Nostra prize in 1988. From 1985 onwards, it has operated as an exhibition venue.

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