Tuesday, April 25, 2006

New photos of Greece



In March I spent 12 days travelling in mainland Greece, from Athens to Thessaloniki with stops in Meteora and Mount Pelion. I've now added photos from that trip to my Greece Galleries.

As a travel destination, Greece is often talked about in the context of the Mediterranean world, but for me part of its fascination lies in its links to its Balkan neighbours - well, what did you expect in a blog called Balkanology? These are especially obvious in the province of Macedonia. The Varosi quarter of Edessa and the Barbouta district of Veria have some great examples of Ottoman-era architecture, although sadly some of it is gradually rotting away.

This was my second visit to Thessaloniki and I was even more impressed than on my first visit. In a way it feels like a Southern Balkan counterpart to Belgrade in the north. Like many large cities in the Balkans, it doesn't immediately impress the visitor with its beauty, initially appearing as a collection of bland modern buildings. But you can spend several enjoyable days seeking out the surviving traces of its complex history - Ottoman and Jewish as well as Byzantine.

My enjoyment of Thessaloniki was greatly enhanced by Mark Mazower's Salonika, a fascinating account of the various communities that thrived in the city for hundreds of years, but failed (except for the Greeks) to survive the 20th century. If you want to know why the New Mosque is decorated with Stars of David, or find the villa where a deposed Sultan once lived, I recommend this book.



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