Agora and Roman Forum
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The city of Thessaloniki is known for its hundreds of monuments from different eras, and the Roman Forum (Agora) is one of the most remarkable. This site is a layer of history spanning several centuries, and a popular tourist attraction.


Back in antiquity, architecture and people’s lifestyles were inextricably linked. The Forum was born at the end of the 2nd century bc, and was the center of life in Thessaloniki. It was a market square, like many others in cities of the ancient world, and went beyond to include public buildings, workshops, and temples.

The main features of roman cities at that time were two avenues, Via Regia and one that intersected it perpendicularly. The forum was located at the intersection of these streets.

The design of the forum was a rectangular atrium, equipped with storerooms, arches and stores, an odeon, a bath and an underground walkway. This was a full two-level complex, split into the Lower and Upper Agora. The structures were placed on the upper tier, with the square below them, paved and rimmed with pillars. The lower level was full of arched galleries and chambers.

The roman forum was a prominent feature of Thessaloniki up until the 5th century ad, acting as the hub for the city’s activities. During the early christian period, the forum underwent changes in its appearance, yet still held its position in the city. Unfortunately, following a major earthquake, the forum was left in ruins and abandoned for centuries. Eventually, new buildings started to appear in its place, only to be wiped out by a fire in 1917.

Discovery of the Roman Forum

In the early 1960s, the Agora was discovered during the construction of a courthouse, and this meant that a modern building could not be built. Researchers then began their exploration of the area, which revealed many significant artifacts, such as mosaic floors, sidewalks, gutters, silver coins, stone and marble sculptures, and craft tools and objects. From 2003 to 2010, the Agora underwent a full-scale restoration, and the ancient monument was eventually opened to the public.

Nowadays, the odeon with its stage and corinthian columns stands tall on the agora. It is still used for its intended purpose, hosting performances and concerts during the summer. Additionally, the cryptoportics, a fragment of a wall, and ruins of public buildings, as well as shops, are in good condition. The roman forum’s architectural complex is one of the most popular places in thessaloniki and its presence has blended in nicely with the modern cityscape.

A museum of the Roman Forum

Many of the discoveries were transferred to the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, but a museum likewise rose in the area of the Roman Forum. It is located in the subterranean galleries, and is not visible to the unaided eye — for numerous visitors, the museum’s presence is an enjoyable shock. This modest exhibition was opened following numerous years of hard labor to restore the Agora.

The museum of Thessaloniki offers an incredible journey through the ages, starting with ancient times and culminating with the catastrophic fire of 1917. You can learn about the ottoman period and its influences on the city, explore the roman life of the city, and gain a deeper appreciation for the work of archaeologists.

The exhibition features a replica of the forum, as well as ancient vessels and vases, figurines from the city’s heyday, and items unearthed during excavations. An innovative touch was the inclusion of materials in braille and tactile replicas of the exhibits, making it accessible to those with visual impairments. This is a great way to learn about the city and its history.

Conveniently situated, the roman forum of Thessaloniki can be reached without much effort from several of Thessaloniki’s most renowned attractions, including the basilica of st. Demetrius (140 m), Modiano market (800 m) and Aristotle square (1 km).


Located in a vibrant area, it is suggested to pair a visit to the forum with other nearby locales, such as Bey Hamama, the basilica of st. Demetrius, the basilica of Ahiropiitos and the cross-domed church of Panagia Halkeon.

The archaeological zone is surrounded by a well-structured infrastructure, with a variety of coffee shops to relax in, shops to shop in, and souvenirs to buy.