The White Tower (Greek: Λευκός Πύργος – Lefkós Pýrgos; Turkish: Beyaz Kule; Judeo-Spanish: Kuli Blanka) has been adopted as the symbol of the city and is a monument/museum on the waterfront of Thessaloniki, offering also an exceptionally fine view of the city and Mt. Olympus.
The present tower replaced an old Byzantine fortification (before 12th century), that the Ottoman Empire reconstructed to fortify the city’s harbour in 1430. Over the years, it was referred to by various names: the Lion Tower, the Tower of Kalamaria and in 19th century, the Tower of Blood when it became a prison and place of execution for convicts. In 1883, the tower was painted white and named White Tower.
After the city’s liberation in 1912, the tower had various uses. During World War I, one floor was used to store antiquities from the excavations done by the archaeological service of the Armée d’Orient. The city’s air defense, Aristotle University’s meteorology laboratory, and Sea Scout groups have all been hosted in its spaces. In 1983, the tower was given to the Ministry of Culture. Nowdays, the White Tower houses an exhibition dedicated to the city of Thessaloniki and its history throughout various periods. The exhibition is organized thematically; each floor features one major theme, developed over time. The main theme is briefly presented in the central space, with more detailed treatment in the surrounding rooms.
The White Tower is circular, with a height of 33,90 m and a diameter of 21,70 m. It consists of a ground floor and 6 upper stories. It is built of stone, plaster and partially of brick, while the roof over the entrance, the ground floor and the staircase vault are built exclusively of brick. The tower’s construction consists of two cylinders, an outer and an inner one. The outer, rises as far as the 5th story and the inner cylinder is one story taller and thus a terrace is formed on the exterior. Between the two cylinders was a built spiral staircase composed of 92 steps. Forty windows permit daylight to illuminate the Tower’s interior.
Sources: Thessaloniki Tourism Organisation, The White Tower Museum, Wikipedia
Photo: Myrto Adam, blackmilk.gr