Thessaloniki (also known as Thessalonica or Salonica) is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the Central Macedonia region. At about a million inhabitants, and a large and vibrant student community, it is considered Greece’s cultural capital, renowned for its festivals, events and diverse cultural life in general and has recently been ranked by Lonely Planet as the world’s fifth-best party city worldwide. More importantly, it is also a city with a continuous 3,000 year old history, including relics of its Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman past, and of its formerly dominant Jewish population. In fact, many of its Byzantine churches and a whole district of the city in particular, are included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
Thessaloniki is home to three well-known universities, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (largest in Greece), the University of Macedonia, and the Alexander Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki, and two research centres, the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (main organiser of the summer school), and the South East European Research Centre. In total, the student population of the city amounts to more than 100,000, while the number of scientists and researchers, working in the aforementioned universities and research centres is estimated to exceed 10,000.
Despite being relatively densely populated, Thessaloniki is a very pleasant and easy city to walk around. Walking across the city centre takes no more than 30 minutes, and at the same time it offers the visitor the opportunity to enjoy a variety of sceneries, historical sites, and culinary experiences. Most people on the streets (especially the young ones) are able to hold a simple conversation in English and would be happy to help with recommendations and directions. In addition, the city is very safe, even during night hours.