Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece. It is the capital city of the regional unit of Thessaloniki as well as the capital of Macedonia, the administrative region of Central Macedonia and the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace. Ever since it was founded by Cassander, Thessaloniki was a fast growing Hellenistic city up until the Ottoman reign. It took advantage of its strategic location and developed into a multicultural city. Since 1912, after the end of the Balkan Wars, and the incorporation of the area in the modern greek state, Thessaloniki has been the second most populated city of Greece. It is often referred to as the co-capital of Greece.
The municipality of Thessaloniki has 788.191 inhabitants (census 2011). The population of the metropolitan area is 1.012.013 whereas the one of the prefecture is 1.110.912.
The foundation of the city in Hellenistic times coincides with a critical phase in the history of the Macedonian Kingdom, which starts with the premature death of Alexander the Great and his decendants’ claim to the throne. In order to claim the throne, King Cassander married Great Alexander’s step sister, Thessaloniki, in whose honour he founded the city, uniting 26 villages that were located around the Thermaic Gulf.