Arch of Galerius and Rotunda0
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These two structures are archaeological sites and reminders of the city's proud and ancient past. Here are the basics: Emperor Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus built the arch and the rotunda to commemorate his victory over Persia. The rotunda connected to his own royal palace, while the archway hung over the Via Egnatia, the primary road reaching from Thessaloniki to Byzantium (current-day Istanbul). Through the centuries, the auxiliary structures that linked the arch and the rotunda have fallen. And as Thessaloniki has weathered different religions and empires, the rotunda has been transformed from Roman political hub to polytheistic temple, to Christian church to Islamic mosque and back to Christian church. In fact, it was the city's first Christian church, dating from the time of Constantine the Great, who brought Christianity to the region.
You can still see the carved battle sequences on the pillars of the archway. One recent Virtual Tourist user says, "The arch is also remarkable because it is surrounded by the modern shops and cafés of a predominantly student quarter of the city." When the weather is good, you'll find students lounging near these two historic monuments.
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#0 Museum of Byzantine Culture
Winner of the Council of Europe's Museum Prize in 2005, the Museum of Byzantine Culture beautifully displays regional artifacts that concern the ancient empire. Everyday objects and artwork that reflect the social, religious and political aspects of this period are displayed in a dynamic and chronological way. One Virtual Tourist attests that the museum "gives a greater appreciation for the importance of Thessaloniki in older times that you may not get without going here." To learn the most about Thessaloniki's history, you'd best be served by visiting this museum after the Archeological Museum, which has exhibitions that predate the Byzantine era. Fortunately, the two are only a five-minute walk away from each other.
The Museum of Byzantine Culture is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday with extended hours on Monday. To reach this site or the Archeological Museum, you can take Bus no. 58 from Dikastirion Square or Bus no. 11 eastward on Egnatia Street. Entrance costs about €4 EUR (or about $5.50 USD). For more information, visit the official website.
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