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Thessaloniki vs. Salonika — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Urooj Arif — Updated on April 9, 2024
Thessaloniki is the official name of Greece's second-largest city, while Salonika is an informal, often historical, name used for the same city.
Thessaloniki vs. Salonika — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Thessaloniki and Salonika


Key Differences

Thessaloniki, situated in northern Greece, is renowned for its rich history, dating back over 2,300 years, and serves as a major economic and cultural center. In contrast, Salonika is a name that echoes the city's multicultural past, used primarily in historical contexts or informally by various language speakers, including English and Hebrew.
The name Thessaloniki is derived from the sister of Alexander the Great, Thessalonike, who was named to commemorate a victory (nike) over Thessaly. On the other hand, Salonika, or Solun in some Slavic languages, reflects the city’s diverse cultural and historical influences, from Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires to its significant Jewish community before World War II.
In contemporary usage, Thessaloniki is preferred in official documents, international relations, and formal contexts to represent the city's modern identity and heritage. Meanwhile, Salonika remains a testament to the city’s historical layers and is often used nostalgically or in specific cultural references.
While Thessaloniki's name is prominent in academic, political, and tourism-related discourse, emphasizing its status as a metropolis and educational hub, Salonika appears in historical texts, literary works, and narratives highlighting its cosmopolitan past and the once-thriving Sephardic Jewish community.
The difference between Thessaloniki and Salonika illustrates the city’s evolution from a crucial Byzantine and Ottoman center to a modern European city, reflecting both its enduring legacy and its ongoing cultural and social development.

Comparison Chart

Name Origin

Named after Thessalonike, sister of Alexander the Great
Informal, historical name with multicultural influences


Official, contemporary contexts
Historical, informal contexts


Modern city, cultural and economic center
Echoes of the city's diverse past, including its Jewish heritage


Emphasizes current status and heritage
Highlights historical and cultural diversity

Common in

Academic, tourism, formal communication
Historical texts, cultural references, informal speech

Compare with Definitions


Rich historical background.
The city of Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC.


Historical name for Thessaloniki.
Salonika was once home to a significant Sephardic Jewish population.


Modern cultural and economic center.
Thessaloniki hosts numerous international festivals annually.


Associated with the city's historical layers.
The name Salonika evokes the city's rich historical tapestry.


Focus on contemporary identity.
Thessaloniki is a leading city in Greece for education and innovation.


Reflects the city's multicultural influences.
Salonika's architecture shows Byzantine, Ottoman, and Jewish influences.


Official name of Greece's second-largest city.
Thessaloniki is known for its vibrant cultural scene.


Used informally or nostalgically.
Many still refer to the city as Salonika when recalling its diverse past.


Named after a historical figure.
Thessaloniki was named to honor the victory of Philip II of Macedon.


Name used in specific cultural contexts.
Salonika is often mentioned in works discussing the city's history.


Thessaloniki (; Greek: Θεσσαλονίκη, [θesaloˈnici] (listen)), also known as Thessalonica (English: ), Saloniki or Salonica () is the second-largest city in Greece, with over 1 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area, and the capital of the geographic region of Macedonia, the administrative region of Central Macedonia and the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace. It is also known in Greek as η Συμπρωτεύουσα (i Symprotévousa), literally "the co-capital", a reference to its historical status as the Συμβασιλεύουσα (Symvasilévousa) or "co-reigning" city of the Byzantine Empire alongside Constantinople.Thessaloniki is located on the Thermaic Gulf, at the northwest corner of the Aegean Sea.


A port city in northeastern Greece on an inlet of the Aegean Sea; second largest city of Greece


A port city in northeastern Greece on an inlet of the Aegean Sea; second largest city of Greece

Common Curiosities

Are Thessaloniki and Salonika the same place?

Yes, they refer to the same city in northern Greece, with Thessaloniki being the official name.

Why do some people still use the name Salonika?

The name Salonika is often used nostalgically or in specific cultural references, highlighting the city's rich, multicultural past.

Is there a difference in the significance of the names Thessaloniki and Salonika?

Yes, Thessaloniki signifies the city's contemporary and official identity, whereas Salonika signifies its historical and cultural layers.

What historical events are associated with Thessaloniki/Salonika?

Thessaloniki has a history marked by Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman rule, and it was a major center for the Sephardic Jewish community before World War II.

What role does Thessaloniki play in Greece today?

It serves as a significant cultural, educational, and economic center, with a rich historical heritage that attracts tourists.

What is Thessaloniki known for?

Thessaloniki is renowned for its extensive history, cultural festivals, and as an educational and business hub in Greece.

Why is Salonika also a name for Thessaloniki?

Salonika is an informal name reflecting the city's historical and cultural diversity, used especially in historical and nostalgic contexts.

How does the use of Thessaloniki vs. Salonika reflect on the city's history?

The use of Thessaloniki emphasizes its modern identity and heritage, while Salonika echoes its diverse, historical influences and past communities.

How do the names Thessaloniki and Salonika reflect the city's multicultural heritage?

Thessaloniki reflects the city’s official standing and modern identity, while Salonika carries connotations of its varied historical influences and the legacy of its diverse communities.

Why is the distinction between Thessaloniki and Salonika important in understanding the city's identity?

The distinction highlights the evolution from a city with a diverse and complex history to a modern metropolis, acknowledging both its past and present.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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