Every year my school organizes an excursion with graduation classes in Northern Greece. Since this year I have graduation classes I went with them. One day is always planned for visiting Thessaloniki. Since I am not interested in shopping I made some research on the Internet and found what I had been looking for - the War Museum!
The War museum is located some 50m from Egnatia Street which is the main street in Thessaloniki and everyone knows it. Since there is quite a chance that there is no War Museum on your Thessaloniki map you should know that it is very near Thessaloniki Fair. Once you see the barbwire on the walls of the nearby military base you know that you are in the right place.
The first impressions come from the courtyard. I have to say that military “touch“ is obvious since everything is so orderly, the grass is mowed and the exhibits are shiny. In the center of the courtyard dominates Northrop F-5 from the Greek Air Force , but there is also an armoured car, a couple of jeeps, a torpedo and some artillery and anti tank guns. The building is very nice and freshly painted. So, my students and I went in.
We were welcomed by a Greek soldier. He was very kind and after consultation with his supreme officer they allowed my students to visit the museum free of charge! I asked for a guide and then the other soldier named Dimitrios came and took us for a tour. I must say that Dimitrios has a remarkable knowledge of history, speaks English very well and has an exceptional gift for narration. So, when you come, you should definitely take a guide (it is free) since only this way you get the maximum of the museum.
What you can see in the building is plenty of different military equipment such as weapons and uniforms; documents, maps, paintings, newspaper articles, caricatures, dioramas and so on. Most of the exhibition is of course dedicated to the Greeks, but you can find many things that belonged either to their enemies or allies like the Turks, Bulgarians, Italians, Germans, British, Russians, Serbs and others.
We started the tour from the almost five centuries long Greek struggle for freedom against the Ottoman Empire. After many unsuccessful uprisings came the First and Second Balkan War in which Greece was finally liberated from the Ottoman Empire and formed the state with the present borders. Greece was involved in World War I without its will trying to remain neutral but finished it on the Allied side.
The main part of the exhibition is dedicated to WWII and heroic struggle against the Italians in 1940-1941 and later the Germans. Among all the uniforms and weapons there are books with the names of all killed Greek soldiers, pilots and marines as well as exhibits concerning some war heroes and their act. After the WWII Greek Army was involved in Korean war (on American side) and in humanitarian missions in former Yugoslavia so there are photos and exhibits concerning this.
Going this way you get a well documented history of Greek army and people in the last two centuries. But at the lower part of the museum there are other things to see like a collection of small fire arms and traditional dresses.
My students and I had a wonderful time at the museum. Everything was great. The excursion lasts for one hour and that is brilliant. Adults pay 3 Euros for entrance, but as I said, my students did not pay anything. For some categories of visitors the entrance fee is 1,5 Euros. They allowed us to take photos freely but without a flash. The notes on exhibits are written in the Greek, English, Russian and German languages I think, but with a guide you do not really need to read them. This War museum is definitely a must see when you visit Thessaloniki.