Back 

Overview of Thessaloniki

516km (320 miles) N of Athens

When a Greek tells you he's from Athens, he always sounds a bit apologetic, or regretful; Greeks from Thessaloniki, on the other hand, sound, if not smug, very pleased to be from Greece's "Second City." Thessaloniki may be second to Athens in political importance and population, but in popular songs, Thessaloniki is celebrated as "the mother of Macedonia," "the most blessed of cities," and "the city whose praises are sung."

You, too, may be tempted to sing this city's praises when you take in its wonderful situation along the broad expanse of the Thermaic Gulf. You're never far from the sea here; when you least expect it, you'll catch a glimpse of waves and boats in the distance. Alas, especially in the summer, you'll almost certainly get less pleasant whiffs of the harbor's ripe, polluted odor. If you're very lucky, you'll see Mount Olympus while you're here: Pollution has increasingly obscured even that imposing landmark.

Greeks are fond of reminding foreigners that when their ancestors were painting themselves blue, or living in rude huts, Greeks were sitting in the shade of the Parthenon, reading the plays of Sophocles. Similarly, Thessalonians like to remind Athenians that when Athens languished in the long twilight of its occupation by the Romans and Ottomans, Thessaloniki flourished. It's true: Thessaloniki's strategic location on the main land route from Europe into Asia made it a powerful city during the Roman Empire--you'll see many monuments built here by the 4th-century A.D. emperor Galerius.

During the Byzantine Empire (the 4th to 15th centuries A.D.), Thessaloniki boasted that it was second only to the capital, Constantinople. That's when Thessaloniki's greatest pride, its superb and endearing churches, were built. After the Turks conquered the Byzantine Empire, Thessaloniki continued to flourish as an important commercial center and port. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the city's Jewish community was so strong and so prosperous that some called Thessaloniki the "second Jerusalem."

Then, in August 1917, a devastating fire destroyed 80% of the city. Phoenix-like, Thessaloniki rose from the ashes. Unfortunately, only part of the city was rebuilt according to the grand plan of the French architect Ernest Hébrard--between 1922 and 1923, 130,000 Greek refugees from Asia Minor flooded into Thessaloniki, almost doubling the city's population and leading to enormous unregulated development. Still, Thessaloniki has the broad tree-lined boulevards and parks that Athens so sadly lacks.

After World War II, and again in the 1960s, two more growth spurts left much of the city's outskirts crowded and ugly--and all too much of the city center lined with bland apartment buildings. You'll notice, however, that Thessaloniki has none of the horizon-blocking skyscrapers that have proliferated in Athens--earthquake regulations forbid this. The last major earthquake was in 1978.

Glimpses of the sea, tree-lined streets, magnificent Byzantine churches--all these make visiting Thessaloniki delightful. And there's something else here that's quite wonderful: the food. In part, this is because of the long tradition of Macedonian cuisine; in part, because this is still a city whose establishments are supported by local customers. There are no restaurants here--as yet--that make their living off visitors.

If you're a visitor to Thessaloniki, you'll appreciate all this. You'll also enjoy the fact that Thessaloniki's location in the virtual center of Macedonia makes it the perfect place from which to set off to the sites associated with Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great.

If you are a man, you can also take in the monasteries of Mount Athos, the Holy Mountain. If you are a woman, you'll have that much more time to enjoy Thessaloniki--or to sit patiently in the little port of Ouranopolis, the jumping-off point for Mount Athos, and envy those lucky enough to travel on to the Holy Mountain.

 

ATTRACTIONS

 

Our suggestions on exploring Thessaloniki are really just that: suggestions. Unlike Athens, which few visitors would be bold enough to visit without seeing the Acropolis, Thessaloniki has no one "must-see" monument. Some might argue that the splendid Archaeological Museum fits the bill, but others would plead the case of the Upper City (Ano Poli), the old Turkish Quarter. Still others would recommend a loop through both the Upper City and the city center to take in as many Byzantine churches and Roman monuments as possible. In short, you're here to enjoy the city itself: a city filled with Byzantine churches and chapels, a city with squares built around Roman palaces, whose markets pulse with life, and whose harborside cafes and promenade refresh the weary.

 

THESSALONIKI

 

Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece with a population of 1,000,000 inhabitants, is one of the oldest cities in Europe. It stretches over twelve kilometers in a bowl formed by low hills facing a bay that opens into the Gulf Thermaikos. It was founded about 315 B.C., on a site of old prehistoric settlements going back to 2300 B.C., by Cassander, King of Macedonia, and was named after his wife, Thessaloniki, sister of Alexander The Great. Since then, Thessaloniki has become the chief city of Macedonia and its most important commercial port. In Roman times it was visited by Saint Paul, who preached the new religion, and who later addressed his two well-known epistles (the oldest written documents of Christian literature) to the Christians of Thessaloniki.

The Byzantine times

In Byzantine times, Thessaloniki became a cultural and artistic centre second only to Constantinople in the whole empire. Great names are closely associated with the city's Byzantine past - the jurist Peter Magister, the epigrammatist Macedonius Hypatus, the Hymnographer Archbishop Joseph, Leo the Mathematician, the historian John Cameniates, the prolific Homeric scholar and humanist Eustathius ( Archbishop of Thessaloniki), the philologist Thomas M. Magister, the teacher of law and editor of the "Hexabiblus" Constantine Armenopoulos, the theologian Gregory Palamas ( Archbishop of Thessaloniki), to mention but a few prominent scholars. The missionary brothers Cyril and Methodius also have a special place in the history of the period; they invented and used the Cyrillic Alphabet to bring literacy and Christianity to the Slavs.

Cultural contribution

After the fall of Thessaloniki (1430) and later of Constantinople (1453), the two major cultural centres of the East, two of Thessaloniki's greatest humanists, Theodore Gazes and Andronicus Callistus, sought refuge in the West where they transplanted the Greek language and literature. Despite the unfavourable conditions prevailing during the Turkish occupation, there were Greek schools in Thessaloniki that struggled, successfully to a large degree, to preserve the Greek language and literature until the city was liberated in October 26, 1912, the anniversary of its patron saint, St. Demetrius. In the nineteenth century the long scholarly tradition of the city was continued by Margaritis Demetsas, a historian, archeologist, and geographer as well as headmaster of the city Grammar School and his pupil P. Papageorgiou, later a prominent philologist.

Monuments

Among the numerous monuments of particular interest in the city are those from the Roman period, the Triumphal Arch of Galerius and the Rotonda. Thessaloniki is, however, above all famous for its Byzantine period, being second only to Constantinople itself. Its many churches whose fine mosaics and wall-paintings are representative of various periods of Byzantine art have survive to enhance the image of the city. They include St. Demetrius, Panagia Acheiropoietus, the Holy Apostles, St. Sophia, St. Catherine, Panagia Chalkeon, St. Nicholas the Orphan, the Prophet Elijah, and the Monastery of Vlatadon. Large sections of the city-walls are also still standing, together with one of their main bastions, the well-known White Tower. Noteworthy from a national, spiritual and artistic viewpoint are also the continuing strong links between the the city of Thessaloniki and Mt. Athos.

Modern Architecture

The modern era of material and cultural development in Thessaloniki dates from its liberation in 1912, when Thessaloniki became the capital city of Northern Greece. The Ministry of Northern Greece, the Cathedral, the Court of Justice, in addition to other major government institutions, are situated today in the city. The town has today two quite distinct sectors: The "old town", continuously undergoing reconstruction, and the modern sector, whose many modern buildings are examples of advanced architecture.

Cultural life

In addition to the University, there are numerous institutions that contribute to the academic and cultural life of the city. Among them are the Macedonian University, The Archeological and Byzantine museums, the Folklore museum, the State Conservatory, Theatres and Orchestras, the Society of Macedonian Studies, the Institute for Balkan Studies, and other cultural and artistic organisations.

Today!

Today Thessaloniki is a thriving city and one of the most important trade and communications centres in the Mediterranean. This is evident from its financial and commercial activities, its port with its special Free Zone, which provides facilities to the other Balkan countries, its international airport, its important industrial complex, its annual International Trade Fair, etc.


Biblical Thessalonica

THESSALONICA

THESSALONICA (thes-a-lo-ni'ka). Called anciently Therma. It was named after the wife of Cassander, who rebuilt the city. Under the Romans it was one of four divisions of Macedonia. Paul and Silas organized a church there (Acts 17:1-4; 1 Thess 1:9). In Acts 20:1-3, Paul's visit is named; see also Phil 4:16; 2 Tim 4:10. In Acts 17:6,8, the rulers of the city are called, in the original, politarchai. This title of a political magistrate is otherwise unknown in extant Gk. literature. At the western entrance to the city there remained standing until 1876 a Roman arch. This contained an inscription on its gate mentioning certain city officials called "politarchs." Other inscriptions also contained the same word. The politarchs were elected by "the people," which refers to the assembly of the demos. Thus one of the assertions of historical inaccuracy in Scripture has been answered. The modern city Salonika is a strategic Balkan metropolis having a population of more than 400,000. Because of its position it played a vital role in the First and Second World Wars. Located on the great road (Via Egnatia) that connected Rome with the whole region N of the Aegean Sea, Thessalonica was an invaluable center for the spread of the gospel. In fact it was nearly, if not quite, on a level with Corinth and Ephesus in its share of the commerce of the Levant. The circumstance noted in 17:1, that here was the synagogue of the Jews in this part of Macedonia, evidently had much to do with the apostle's plans and also doubtless with his success. The first scene of the apostle's work at Thessalonica was the synagogue (17:2-3). As a result of German occupation during World War II, the city lost about all its Jewish population. Because the modern city covers the site of the ancient city, little can be seen of NT Thessalonica. Remains of the ancient agora are visible in the center of modern Thessalonica, however. The apostle Paul's ministry in Thessalonica fit his urban strategy-his effort to reach the empire through its cities.

(From The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)

 

THESSALONICA

A town of Macedonia on the Thermaic gulf, now the gulf of Saloniki. Therma was its original name, which Cossander changed into Thessalonica in honour of his wife, Philip's daughter. It rises from the end of the basin at the head of the gulf up the declivity behind, presenting a striking appearance from the sea. After the battle of Pydna Thessalonica fell under Rome and was made capital of the second region of Macedonia. Afterward, when the four regions or governments were united in one province, Thessalonica became virtually the metropolis. Situated on the Via Ignatia which traversed the S. coast of Macedonia and Thrace, connecting thereby those regions with Rome, Thessalonica, with its harbour on the other hand connecting it commercially with Asia Minor, naturally took the leading place among the cities in that quarter. Paul was on the Via Ignatia at Neapolis and Philippi, Amphipolis and Apollonia (Acts 16:11-40; 17:1), as well as at Thessalonica.

The population of Saloniki is even now 60,000, of whom 10,000 are Jews. Trade in all ages attracted the latter to Thessalonica, and their synagogue here was the starting point of Paul's evangelizing. Octavius Augustus rewarded its adhesion to his cause in the second civil war by making it "a free city" with a popular assembly ("the people") and "rulers of the city" (politarchs: Acts 17:1,5,8); this political term is to be read still on an arch spanning the main street, from it we learn there were seven politarchs. Its commercial intercourse with the inland plains of Macedonia on the N., and on the S. with Greece by sea, adapted it admirably as a center from whence the gospel word "sounded out not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place" (1 Thess 1:8). Paul visited T. on his second missionary tour. (See PAUL and JASON on this visit). Other Thessalonian Christians were Demas perhaps, Gaius (Acts 19:29), Secundus, and Aristarchus (Acts 20:4; 27:2; 19:29). On the same night that the Jewish assault on Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas his guests took place, the latter two set out for Berea. Again Paul visited Thessalonica (Acts 20:1-3), probably also after his first imprisonment at Rome (1 Tim 1:3, in accordance with his hope, Phil 1:25-26; 2:24). Thessalonica was the mainstay of Eastern Christianity in the Gothic invasion in the third century. To Thessalonica the Sclaves and the Bulgarians owed their conversion; from whence it was called "the orthodox city." It was taken by the Saracens in 904 A.D., by the Crusaders in 1185 A.D., and by the Turks in 1430; and the murder of the foreign consuls in 1876 had much to do with the last war of 1876-1877, between Russia and Turkey. Eustathius, the critic of the 12th century, belonged to Thessalonica. The main street still standing is the old Via Ignatia, running E. and W., as is shown by the two arches which span it, one at the E. the other at the W. end; on that at the E. end are figures in low relief representing the triumphs of a Roman emperor.

(from Fausset's Bible Dictionary, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1998 by Biblesoft)

 

THESSALONICA

(thes-a-lo-ni'-ka) (Thessalonike, ethnic Thessalonikeus): One of the chief towns of Macedonia from Hellenistic times down to the present day.

1. Position and Name: It lies in 40 degrees 40 minutes North latitude, and 22 degrees 50 minutes East longitude, at the northernmost point of the Thermaic Gulf (Gulf of Salonica), a short distance to the East of the mouth of the Axius (Vardar). It is usually maintained that the earlier name of Thessalonica was Therma or Therme, a town mentioned both by Herodotus (vii.121 ff, 179 ff) and by Thucydides (i.61; ii.29), but that its chief importance dates from about 315 BC, when the Macedonian king Cassander, son of Antipater, enlarged and strengthened it by concentrating there the population of a number of neighboring towns and villages, and renamed it after his wife Thessalonica, daughter of Philip II and step-sister of Alexander the Great. This name, usually shortened since mediaeval times into Salonica or Saloniki, it has retained down to the present. Pliny, however, speaks of Therma as still existing side by side with Thessalonica (NH, iv.36), and it is possible that the latter was an altogether new foundation, which took from Therma a portion of its inhabitants and replaced it as the most important city on the Gulf.

2. History: Thessalonica rapidly became populous and wealthy. In the war between Perseus and the Romans it appears as the headquarters of the Macedonian navy (Livy xliv. 10) and when, after the battle of Pydna (168 BC), the Romans divided the conquered territory into four districts, it became the capital of the second of these (Livy xlv.29), while later, after the organization of the single Roman province of Macedonia in 146 BC, it was the seat of the governor and thus practically the capital of the whole province. In 58 BC Cicero spent the greater part of his exile there, at the house of the quaestor Plancius (Pro Plancio 41, 99; Epistle Ad Att, iii.8-21). In the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, Thessalonica took the senatorial side and formed one of Pompey's chief bases (49-48 BC), but in the final struggle of the republic, six years later, it proved loyal to Antony and Octavian, and was rewarded by receiving the status and privileges of a "free city" (Pliny, NH, iv.36). Strabo, writing in the reign of Augustus, speaks of it as the most populous town in Macedonia and the metropolis of the province (vii.323, 330), and about the same time the poet Antipater, himself a native of Thessalonica, refers to the city as "mother of all Macedon" (Jacobs, Anthol. Graec., II, p. 98, no. 14); in the 2nd century of our era Lucian mentions it as the greatest city of Macedonia (Asinus, 46). It was important, not only as a harbor with a large import and export trade, but also as the principal station on the great Via Egnatia, the highway from the Adriatic to the Hellespont.

3. Paul's Visit: Paul visited the town, together with Silas and Timothy, on his 2nd missionary journey. He had been at Philippi, and traveled thence by the Egnatian Road, passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia on the way (Acts 17:1). He found at Thessalonica a synagogue of the Jews, in which for three successive Sabbaths he preached the gospel, basing his message upon the types and prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures (vs 2,3). Some of the Jews became converts and a considerable number of proselytes and Greeks, together with many women of high social standing (verse 4). Among these converts were in all probability Aristarchus and Secundus, natives of Thessalonica, whom we afterward find accompanying Paul to Asia at the close of his 3rd missionary journey (Acts 20:4). The former of them was, indeed, one of the apostle's most constant companions; we find him with Paul at Ephesus (Acts 19:29) and on his journey to Rome (Acts 27:2), while in two of his Epistles, written during his captivity, Paul refers to Aristarchus as still with him, his fellow-prisoner (Col 4:10; Philem verse 24). Gaius, too, who is mentioned in conjunction with Aristarchus, may have been a Thessalonian (Acts 19:29). How long Paul remained at Thessalonica on his 1st visit we cannot precisely determine; certainIy we are not to regard his stay there as confined to three weeks, and Ramsay suggests that it probably extended from December, 50 AD, to May, 51 AD (St. Paul the Traveller, 228). In any case, we learn that the Philippines sent him assistance on two occasions during the time which he spent there (Phil 4:16), although he was "working night and day" to maintain himself (1 Thess 2:9; 2 Thess 3:8). Paul, the great missionary strategist, must have seen that from no other center could Macedonia be permeated with the gospel so effectively as from Thessalonica (1 Thess 1:8).

But his success roused the jealousy of the Jews, who raised a commotion among the dregs of the city populace (Acts 17:5). An attack was made on the house of Jason, with whom the evangelists were lodging, and when these were not found Jason himself and some of the other converts were dragged before the magistrates and accused of harboring men who had caused tumult throughout the Roman world, who maintained the existence of another king, Jesus, and acted in defiance of the imperial decrees. The magistrates were duly alive to the seriousness of the accusation, but, since no evidence was forthcoming of illegal practices on the part of Jason or the other Christians, they released them on security (vs 5-9). Foreseeing further trouble if Paul should continue his work in the town, the converts sent Paul and Silas (and possibly Timothy also) by night to Beroea, which lay off the main road and is referred to by Cicero as an out-of-the-way town (oppidum devium: in Pisonem 36). The Beroean Jews showed a greater readiness to examine the new teaching than those of Thessalonica, and the work of the apostle was more fruitful there, both among Jews and among Greeks (vs 10-13). But the news of this success reached the Thessalonian Jews and inflamed their hostility afresh. Going to Beroea, they raised a tumult there also, and made it necessary for Paul to leave the town and go to Athens (vs 14,15).

Several points in this account are noteworthy as illustrating the strict accuracy of the narrative of the Acts. Philippi was a Roman town, military rather than commercial; hence, we find but few Jews there and no synagogue; the magistrates bear the title of praetors (Acts 16:20,22,35-36,38 the Revised Version margin) and are attended by lictors (Acts 16:35,38 the Revised Version margin); Paul and Silas are charged with the introduction of customs which Romans may not observe (verse 21); they are beaten with rods (verse 22) and appeal to their privileges as Roman citizens (vs 37,38). At Thessalonica all is changed. We are here in a Greek commercial city and a seaport, a "free city," moreover, enjoying a certain amount of autonomy and its own constitution. Here we find a large number of resident Jews and a synagogue. The charge against Paul is that of trying to replace Caesar by another king; the rioters wish to bring him before "the people," i.e. the popular assembly characteristic of Greek states, and the magistrates of the city bear the Greek name of politarchs (Acts 17:5-9). This title occurs nowhere in Greek literature, but its correctness is proved beyond possibility of question by its occurrence in a number of inscriptions of this period, which have come to light in Thessalonica and the neighborhood, and will be found collected in American Journal of Theology (1898, 598) and in M. G. Dimitsas, (Makedonia), 422 ff. Among them the most famous is the inscription engraved on the arch which stood at the western end of the main street of Salonica and was called the Vardar Gate. The arch itself, which was perhaps erected to commemorate the victory of Philippi, though some authorities assign it to a later date, has been removed, and the inscription is now in the British Museum (CIG, 1967; Leake, Northern Greece, III, 236; Le Bas, Voyage archeologique, no. 1357; Vaux, Trans. Royal Sec. Lit., VIII, 528). This proves that the politarchs were six in number, and it is a curious coincidence that in it occur the names Sosipater, Gaius and Secundus, which are berate by three Macedonian converts, of whom the first two were probably Thessalonians, the last certainly.

4. The Thessalonian Church: The Thessalonian church was a strong and flourishing one, composed of Gentiles rather than of Jews, if we may judge from the tone of the two Epistles addressed to its members, the absence of quotations from and allusions to the Old Testament, and the phrase "Ye turned unto God from idols" (1 Thess 1:9; compare also 2:14). These, by common consent the earliest of Paul's Epistles, show us that the apostle was eager to revisit Thessalonica very soon after his enforced departure: "once and again" the desire to return was strong in him, but "Satan hindered" him (2:18)-a reference probably to the danger and loss in which such a step would involve Jason and the other leading converts. But though himself prevented from continuing his work at Thessalonica, he sent Timothy from Athens to visit the church and confirm the faith of the Christians amid their hardships and persecutions (3:2-10). The favorable report brought back by Timothy was a great comfort to Paul, and at the same time intensified his longing to see his converts again (3:10-11). This desire was to be fulfilled more than once. Almost certainly Paul returned there on his 3rd missionary journey, both on his way to Greece (Acts 20:1) and again while he was going thence to Jerusalem (verse 3); it is on this latter occasion that we hear of Aristarchus and Secundus accompanying him (verse 4). Probably Paul was again in Thessalonica after his first imprisonment. From the Epistle to the Philippians (Phil 1:26; 2:24), written during his captivity, we learn that his intention was to revisit Philippi if possible, and 1 Tim 1:3 records a subsequent journey to Macedonia, in the course of which the apostle may well have made a longer or shorter stay at Thessalonica. The only other mention of the town in the New Testament occurs in 2 Tim 4:10, where Paul writes that Demas has forsaken him and has gone there. Whether Demas was a Thessalonian, as some have supposed, cannot be determined.

5. Later History: For centuries the city remained one of the chief strongholds of Christianity, and it won for itself the title of "the Orthodox City," not only by the tenacity and vigor of its resistance to the successive attacks of various barbarous races, but also by being largely responsible for their conversion to Christianity.

From the middle of the 3rd century AD it was entitled "metropolis and colony," and when Diocletian (284-305) divided Macedonia into two provinces, Thessalonica was chosen as the capital of the first of these. It was also the scene in 390 AD of the famous massacre ordered by Theodosius the Great, for which Ambrose excluded that emperor for some months from the cathedral at Milan. In 253 the Goths had made a vain attempt to capture the city, and again in 479 Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, found it so strong and well prepared that he did not venture to attack it. From the 6th to the 9th century it was engaged in repeated struggles against Avars, Slavonians and Bulgarians, whose attacks it repelled with the utmost difficulty. Finally, in 904 AD it was captured by the Saracens, who, after slaughtering a great number of the inhabitants and burning a considerable portion of the city, sailed away carrying with them 22,000 captives, young men, women and children. In 1185, when the famous scholar Eustathius was bishop, the Normans under Tancred stormed the city, and once more a general massacre took place. In 1204 Thessalonica became the center of a Latin kingdom under Boniface, marquis of Monferrat, and for over two centuries it passed from hand to hand, now ruled by Latins now by Greeks, until in 1430 it fell before the sultan Amurath II. After that time it remained in the possession of the Turks, and it was, indeed, the chief European city of their dominions, with the exception of Constantinople, until it was recaptured by the Greeks in the Balkan war of 1912. Its population includes some 32,000 Turks, 47,000 Jews (mostly the descendants of refugees from Spain) and 16,000 Greeks and other Europeans. The city is rich in examples of Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture and art, and possesses, in addition to a large number of mosques, 12 churches and 25 synagogues.  M. N. TOD

(from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft)

 

THESSALONICA

[thes uh luh NIGH kuh]-a city in Macedonia (see Map 7, B-1) visited by the apostle Paul (Acts 17:1,11,13; 27:2; Phil 4:16). Situated on the Thermaic Gulf, Thessalonica was the chief seaport of Macedonia. The city was founded in about 315 B.C. by Cassander, who resettled the site with inhabitants from 26 villages that he had destroyed. He named the city after his wife, Thessalonica, the sister of Alexander the Great and daughter of Philip II of Macedonia. The Egnatian Way, the main overland route from Rome to the East, ran directly through the city.

Under Roman rule, Thessalonica achieved prominence. In 167 B.C. the Romans divided Macedonia into four districts, Thessalonica becoming capital of the second district. Some 20 years later, in 148 B.C., Macedonia became a Roman province with Thessalonica as its capital. After the battle of Philippi in 42 B.C., when Octavian (later Augustus Caesar) and Mark Antony defeated Brutus and Cassius, the assassins of Julius Caesar, Thessalonica became a free city. It was the most populous city of Macedonia.

In the third century A.D. Thessalonica was selected to oversee a Roman temple, and under Decius (ruled A.D. 249-251), infamous for his persecution of Christians, the city achieved the status of a Roman colony, which entitled it to the rights and privileges of the Roman Empire. The city was surrounded by a wall, stretches of which still stand. Archaeologists have uncovered a paved Roman forum some 63 by 99 meters (70 by 110 yards) in size, dating from the first or second centuries A.D.

The apostle Paul visited Thessalonica in A.D. 49 or 50 during his second missionary journey (Acts 17:1-9). Paul's evangelistic efforts met with success. Within a short time a vigorous Christian congregation had blossomed, consisting of some members of the Jewish synagogue as well as former pagans.

The Book of Acts leads us to assume that Paul stayed in Thessalonica only a few weeks before being forced to leave because of Jewish opposition. But in reality he probably stayed at least two or three months. A shorter stay would scarcely account for Paul's receiving two gifts of aid from the Philippians (Phil 4:16), or for the depth of affection which developed between Paul and the Thessalonians (1 Thess 2:1-12). Thessalonica was also the home of two of Paul's co-workers, Aristarchus and Secundus (Acts 20:4; 27:2).

(from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright (c)1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)