After the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917, a team of architects and urban planners including Thomas Mawson and Ernest Hebrard, a French architect, chose the Byzantine era as the basis of their (re)building designs for Thessaloniki’s city centre. The new city plan included axes, diagonal streets and monumental squares, with a street grid that would channel traffic smoothly. The plan of 1917 included provisions for future population expansions and a street and road network that would be, and still is sufficient today. It contained sites for public buildings and provided for the restoration of Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques.
Also called the historic centre, it is divided into several districts, including Dimokratias Square (Democracy Sq. known also as Vardaris) Ladadika (where many entertainment venues and tavernas are located), Kapani (where the city’s central Modiano market is located), Diagonios, Navarinou, Rotonda, Agia Sofia and Hippodromio, which are all located around Thessaloniki’s most central point, Aristotelous Square.
Various commercial stoas around Aristotelous are named from the city’s past and historic personalities of the city, like stoa Hirsch, stoa Carasso/Ermou, Pelosov, Colombou, Levi, Modiano, Morpurgo, Mordoch, Simcha, Kastoria, Malakopi, Olympios, Emboron, Rogoti, Vyzantio, Tatti, Agiou Mina, Karipi etc.
The western portion of the city centre is home to Thessaloniki’s law courts, its central international railway station and the port, while its eastern side hosts the city’s two universities, the Thessaloniki International Exhibition Centre, the city’s main stadium, its archaeological and Byzantine museums, the new city hall and its central parks and gardens, namely those of the YMCA and Pedion tou Areos.