Thessaloniki (Θεσσαλονίκη, Thessaloníki), also familiarly known as Thessalonica or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece, with over 1 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area, and the capital of Macedonia, the administrative region of Central Macedonia and the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace. Its nickname is η Συμπρωτεύουσα (Symprotévousa), literally "the co-capital", a reference to its historical status as the Συμβασιλεύουσα (Symvasilévousa) or "co-reigning" city of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, alongside Constantinople.
Thessaloniki is located on the Thermaic Gulf, at the northwest corner of the Aegean Sea. It is bounded on the west by the delta of the Axios/Vardar.
Thessaloniki is Greece's second major economic, industrial, commercial and political centre; it is a major transportation hub for Greece and southeastern Europe, notably through the Port of Thessaloniki. The city is renowned for its festivals, events and vibrant cultural life in general, and is considered to be Greece's cultural capital. Events such as the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival are held annually, while the city also hosts the largest bi-annual meeting of the Greek diaspora. Thessaloniki was the 2014 European Youth Capital.
The city of Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by Cassander of Macedon. An important metropolis by the Roman period, Thessaloniki was the second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire. It was conquered by the Ottomans in 1430, and passed from the Ottoman Empire to Greece on 8 November 1912.
Thessaloniki is home to numerous notable Byzantine monuments, including the Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as several Roman, Ottoman and Sephardic Jewish structures. The city's main university, Aristotle University, is the largest in Greece and the Balkans.
Thessaloniki is a popular tourist destination in Greece. In 2013, National Geographic Magazine included Thessaloniki in its top tourist destinations worldwide, while in 2014 Financial Times FDI magazine (Foreign Direct Investments) declared Thessaloniki as the best mid-sized European city of the future for human capital and lifestyle. Among street photographers, the center of Thessaloniki is also considered the most popular destination for street photography in Greece.
Thessaloniki is not only regarded as the cultural and entertainment capital of northern Greece but also the cultural capital of the country.The city's main theaters, run by the National Theatre of Northern Greece (Greek: Κρατικό Θέατρο Βορείου Ελλάδος) which was established in 1961, include the Theater of the Society of Macedonian Studies, where the National Theater is based, the Royal Theater (Vasiliko Theatro) -the first base of the National Theater-, Moni Lazariston, and the Earth Theater and Forest Theater, both amphitheatrical open-air theatres overlooking the city.
Thessaloniki is home of a number of festivals and events. The Thessaloniki International Trade Fair is the most important event to be hosted in the city annually, by means of economic development. It was first established in 1926 and takes place every year at the 180,000 m2 (1,937,503.88 sq ft) Thessaloniki International Exhibition Center. The event attracts major political attention and it is customary for the Prime Minister of Greece to outline his administration's policies for the next year, during event. Over 250,000 visitors attended the exposition in 2010. The new Art Thessaloniki, is starting first time 29.10. – 1 November 2015 as an international contemporary art fair. The Thessaloniki International Film Festival is established as one of the most important film festivals in Southern Europe, with a number of notable film makers such as Francis Ford Coppola, Faye Dunaway, Catherine Deneuve, Irene Papas and Fatih Akın taking part, and was established in 1960. The Documentary Festival, founded in 1999, has focused on documentaries that explore global social and cultural developments, with many of the films presented being candidates for FIPRESCI and Audience Awards.