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The city’s legacy as Byzantium’s second city can be seen in the beautiful ancient churches scattered around the higher parts of the city, a dozen of them on Unesco’s World Heritage List. In the centre of town is Aghios Demetrius, the largest church in Greece, dating from the 4th century, which was rebuilt after being largely destroyed in the 1917 fire. The 4th-century Roman Rotunda of Galerius is another Unesco Site. The White Tower, rebuilt by the Ottomans after the capture of the city in 1420, is the stand-alone historical feature of the waterfront and the last remnant of the city walls. Used as a prison, in 1829 it was the scene of “The Auspicious Incident”, the mass slaughter of Janissaries who were schooled in the town, following their revolt. Thereafter it was called the Red or Bloody Tower until it was renamed by the Greeks, and it now contains a small museum about the city. Near the tower are museums dedicated to archaeology and Byzantine culture. As a gesture of good will, the Greek government gave the Turkish government the three-storey house where Mustafa Kemal Atatuk was born. It has been restored with original furniture and visits can be arranged through the Turkish consulate next door.
Getting There: Macedonia International Airport is 15km from the city centre. There are buses from Istanbul and Athens.
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