The Roman Forum (Roman Market) of Thessaloniki, Macedonia: The Roman Forum of Thessaloniki is located at the centre of the city, between Filippou and Olympou st. This spot was the centre of activities of Thessaloniki for about 8 centuries, almost from the foundation of the town (3rd century B.C.) till the early Buzantine period (5th century A.D.).
Roman Forum – Ancient Agora
During the Roman period, this marketplace represented the social and religious centre of the town and had the most imposing buildings. The complex of the Roman market was constructed around a rectangular square. In the three sides, there were two lofts. The southern loft was seating at a double vaulting which was a semi basement on the one side.
On the eastern loft of the transept, there was a building display. According to a sign, it functioned as a conservatory. During the Byzantine Period the buildings were deserted and destroyed by earthquakes or enemy invasions. Excavations on the spot have revealed the mint, the conservatory, public buildings, a whorehouse and a stoa. In this archaeological site, cultural events and concerts are organized in summer by the municipality.
Just a few blocks away from Aristotelous square lies the roman heart of the ancient city, the Roman Forum, also known as “Ancient Agora”.
The Forum (Agora) was constructed by the Romans in the late 1st century A.D. Along with the Galerian Palace Complex it was the center of political and public life in Thessaloniki.
It was a large open area surrounded by buildings of various functions some of which were elegant, impressive buildings, thus displaying the financial prosperity of the city, especially during the Hellenistic and Roman period of its history because of its growing strategic importance.
Being the social, religious and administrative center of the city, it was connected to all the main streets, like the roman commercial path of Via egnatia to its southern section and of course the city’s main avenue (Decumanus Maximus). It remained active during the 2nd, 3rd and 4th century AD.
The Forum was beautifully decorated with arches, cloisters and fountains. Inside the agora you will be able to visit the restored ancient amphitheater (Odeion) with its stands and scene, elements and parts of the Corinthian columns that used to form the imposive two-storey porticoes, and well-crafted mosaic floors. Several shops were located along the ancient trade route that was stretching along the direction of Philip’s St today.
The entire complex was organised around a rectangular paved open area that was used as a meeting or gathering place.
The extremely well preserved “Cryptoporticus” semi – subterranean corridors are of special interest as the Romans constructed them by taking advantage of the ground’s natural slope. If you follow them untill the end you will discover the Forum’s underground museum! Beautiful artifacts and rare pictures along with some really informative presentations about the city’s historic past await you there.
The archaeological excavations revealed this treasure in 1966, while its findings revealed important topographic and historical information about the city. A large number of silver coins, stone and marble sculptures were also found and are now exhibited in museums.
Restoration efforts started in 1989. The result of these efforts can be seen today in this beautiful, easily accessible archaeological site.