Readers’ wildlife photos

August 24, 2023 • 8:15 am

Today we have part II of Athayde Tonhasca Júnior’s perambulations through the Greek city of Thessaloniki (part I is here). His captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.  I received one additional batch of photos from another reader, but if I don’t get more, tomorrow the well runs dry. Please send in your pix!

Walking the Streets of Thessaloniki, part II

A replica of one of the relief figures comprising Las Incantadas (The Enchanted Ones), a group of ancient pillars from 2nd or 3rd AD. Nobody cared much for the monument (Ottoman soldiers supposedly took pot shots at it for target practice) until the Turkish governor sold it to the French consul in 1864. The Frenchmen’s shoddy work in removing the massive monument, breaking it in several places, almost caused civil unrest: crowds of Greeks, Jews and Turks tried to prevent its embarkation, but in vain: today the restored Incantadas reside in the Louvre. Greece tried to get them back in recent times, but the French position was certainement pas. They sent this replica instead (paid by the Greeks) to the Archaeological Museum. The name Las Incantadas comes from Ladino, the old Spanish language brought to Thessaloniki by Sephardic Jews after they were booted out of Spain. Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish, is sprinkled with Portuguese, French, Hebrew and other sources, and was once Thessaloniki’s main lingo: today it is basically extinct in the city – not surprising, as about 90% of its Jewish population was killed during the war – and endangered elsewhere:

A painting in the War Museum depicting a group of Greek guerrillas led by Konstantinos Kanaris, a national hero, sneaking away after one of the Greeks’ special tricks during the war of independence (1821–1829): to board a Turkish ship in the middle of the night and set it alight. The American and South American wars of independence were gentle affairs when compared to Greece’s struggle to be liberated from the Ottoman Empire. The level of atrocities, from both sides, is hard to comprehend. Decapitation, rape and enslavement were the destinies of villagers taken by the enemy´s side (for a hair-raising and excellent account of the revolution, see Mark Mazower’s The Greek Revolution: 1821 and the Making of Modern Europe):

You can’t get away from history in Thessaloniki. Excavation work in the 5th-century Byzantine church of Panagia Acheiropoietos (another UNESCO site) brought to light segments of a flooring from a Roman bath used by early Christians (2nd-4th c.):

In another corner of the church of Panagia Acheiropoietos, Sultan Murat II reminded the masses who’s the boss: ‘Sultan Murat Conquered Thessaloniki in 833’ (1430 in the Christian calendar). After a 8-year siege, Thessaloniki was taken by the Ottomans and remained in their hands for the next five centuries, until it became part of the Kingdom of Greece in 1912:

The impressive wall enclosing Thessaloniki’s centre. It was built in stages by the Romans, then early Christians (4th to 5th c.). If you were caught outside at night, too bad: the gates were locked and nobody could enter or exit until next morning:

In the 5th c., a magistrate named Ormisdas was praised for his honest handling of public funds used for renovation works at the wall. This inscription reads: “With unsoiled hands Ormisdas built these impregnable walls and made the city great”. Clean-handed Ormisdas types are in short supply in Greece nowadays: Transparency International ranks the country higher than Hungary and Italy in their Corruption Index, which is quite a feat:Like many other churches in town, the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen doesn’t look impressive from the outside. Once you get in, you are overwhelmed by artistic details. St Constantine is the very same Constantine the Great, Roman emperor who is believed to have ordered the execution of his eldest son and his second wife. A character of mixed reviews in the East and West:

Loutra Paradisos (Paradise Baths), constructed by Sultan Murad Il in 1436 or 1444 at the location where there may have been a complex of imperial baths during the Roman era. There were male and female bath sections:

The Arch of Galerius, built in the years 298 and 299 AD to celebrate Galerius’ victory over the Persians, Rome’s enduring enemies:

About 1/3 of Thessaloniki was wiped out by the big fire of 1917. Out of the ashes, splendid buildings like this one replaced the old houses in the city centre:

The Daily Planet relocated to Thessaloniki:

11 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. A nice set of photos! That black/white triangular flooring is really cool, too, in contrast to the checkerboard version which I hate.

    When I saw Kanaris I wondered if he might be an ancestor of German Admiral Kanaris (head of the Abwehr and who became an anti-Nazi), but it seems that he wondered that himself in 1938 and he turned out to be Italian.

  2. Most people don’t know this, but the Greek revolt against the Ottoman empire was a failure. Somewhat famously, Cochrane and Lord Byron fought for Greek independence. In the end, the Ottomans ‘won’. The leaders of N. Europe didn’t like this. They sent the combined navies of France, Britain, and Russia to fight the Ottomans (the battle of Navarino). Of course, the combined navies won and the Ottomans lost. One of the provisions of the Treaty of Adrianople was Greek autonomy. Greece became fully independent in 1832. Cochrane may have been the second greatest naval officer of all time, surpassed only by Nelson. Lord Byron is famous (in computer circles) as the father of Ada Lovelace.

  3. Your posts are excellent, and this was no exception! Constantine the Great was a very nasty character indeed, especially for giving Christianity its opportunity to swallow up the Roman empire. Murat II on the other hand I consider a likable monarch—he was very fond of poetry and drinking parties, and after the death of his favorite son he tried retiring from the sultanate but was brought back by the Crusaders and Janissaries. He wanted an oculus in his tomb so the rain could fall on his grave, and his wish was granted, as seen in Bursa, his burial place.

  4. Always a treat. The ancient stone and brick walls look to have some history in their construction and reconstruction. It looks like the assorted pieces were “requisitioned” from this or that other wall or building.

  5. With your great posts, I’m always anticipating your subtle humor; The Daily Planet gave me an LOL! Thanks for that, and for this second installment of Thessaloniki. Marvelous.

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