Thessaloniki is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace. Its honorific title is co-capital and stands as a reference to its historical status as co-reigning city of the Byzantine Empire, alongside Constantinople. Thessaloniki is Greece's second major economic, industrial, commercial and political centre, and a major transportation hub for the rest of southeastern Europe; its commercial port is also of great importance for Greece and the southeastern European hinterland. 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. Founded in 315 BC by Cassander of Macedon, Thessaloniki's history spans some 2,300 years. An important metropolis by the Roman period, Thessaloniki was the second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire. 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. In addition to its historic roots, Thessaloniki is also a very popular tourist destination in Greece. In 2010, Lonely Planet ranked Thessaloniki as the world's fifth-best party city worldwide, comparable to other cities such as Dubai and Montreal.
The White Tower of Thessaloniki is a monument and museum on the waterfront of the city of Thessaloniki, capital of the region of Macedonia in northern Greece and a symbol of Greek sovereignty over Macedonia. The present tower replaced an old Byzantine fortification which was mentioned around the 12th century and reconstructed by the Ottomans to fortify the city's harbour; it became a notorious prison and scene of mass executions during the period of Ottoman rule. It was substantially remodeled and its exterior was whitewashed after Greece gained control of the city in 1912. It has been adopted as the symbol of the city.
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