This book shares the conclusions of a remarkable conference marking the centennial of Thessaloniki’s incorporation into the Greek state in 1912. Like its Roman and Byzantine predecessors, Ottoman Salonica was the metropolis of a huge, multi-ethnic Balkan hinterland, a center of modernization/westernization, and the de facto capital of Sephardic Judaism. The powerful attraction it exerted on competing local nationalisms, including the Young Turks, gave it a paradigmatic role in the transition from imperial to national rule in southeastern Europe.

Twenty-three articles cover the multicultural physiognomy of a ‘Levantine’ city. They describe the mechanisms for cultivating national consciousness (including education, journalism, the arts, archaeology, and urban planning), the relationship between national identity, religious identity, and an evolving socialist labor movement, anti-Semitism, and the practical issues of governing and assimilating diverse non-Greek populations after Greece’s military victory in 1912. Analysis of this transformation extends chronologically through the arrival of Greek refugees from Turkey and the Black Sea in 1923, the Holocaust, the Greek civil war, and the new waves of migration after 1990. These processes are analyzed on multiple levels, including civil administration, land use planning, and the treatment of Thessaloniki’s historic monuments.

This work underscores the importance of cities and their local histories in shaping the key national narratives that drove development in southeastern Europe. Those lessons are highly relevant today, as Europe reacts to renewed migratory pressures and the rise of new nationalist movements, and draws lessons, valid or otherwise, from the nation-building experiments of the previous century.

chapter |14 pages


Continuities and discontinuities in the transition from imperial to national order

chapter 3|14 pages

Was Salonica a Levantine city?

chapter 4|14 pages

The place of Thessaloniki in Greek national awareness

From Greek independence to 1912 and beyond

chapter 7|10 pages

Amateur and professional theatre in Ottoman Thessaloniki

Multicultural identity and its implications

chapter 8|21 pages

A new look at an ancient city

Thessaloniki in Ottoman archaeology, 1832–1912

chapter 9|13 pages

Urban transformation and the revolution

Salonica and the Young Turks, 1908–1912

chapter 11|15 pages

The boundaries of Hellenism

Language and loyalty among Salonican Jewry, 1917–1933 1

chapter 12|14 pages

In the aftermath of the Balkan Wars

The incorporation of Thessaloniki into the Greek state

chapter 13|10 pages

Refugee resettlement, 1922–1924

A watershed in the ethnic, social, and economic transformation of Thessaloniki

chapter 14|14 pages

Integration through the past

Jewish scholars write history in inter-war Salonica 1

chapter 16|16 pages

From the call to prayer to the silences of the museum

Salonica’s soundscapes in transition

chapter 17|17 pages

The Muslims of Thessaloniki, 1912–2012

A discontinuous and uncomfortable presence

chapter 19|19 pages

French interests and Salonica’s port, 1872–1912

Entrepreneurial and architectural innovation

chapter 20|23 pages

The post-war transformation of the Thessaloniki periphery

Urbanization and landscape

chapter 22|23 pages

The care of monuments in modern Thessaloniki

Perceptions and practices

chapter 23|6 pages

A past for every possible future

Concluding remarks