Until 1870, half of the Freedom Square was not existing. It was one part of the sea. In 1870 the South Walls of Thessaloniki that were protecting the city from invaders started to be demolished in an effort to modernize the Ottoman Empire as it was starting to become a big trade centre in the Balkans. Since then, the Freedom square changed many forms and spatial significance, depending on the seasons. At some stage it was a place for recreation, at another stage it was a popular destination for parades or a hub for army forces but it has even became a place of torment.
The latest history of the Freedom square was linked with the Jews of Thessaloniki during the 2nd World War. At the 14th of March, 1943 many Jews of Thessaloniki were asked by the Germans to be gathered there in order to be transferred to Poland. They were told that in Poland they would find a new house and live together with people they knew. The next day the Jews of the city (which at that stage were almost half of the population of Thessaloniki) gathered in the square and they were escorted until the train station. They were staffed and locked inside the wagons and instead of finding a house in Poland they were sent to concentration camps. Until the mid of May of 1943, 17 trains had departed from Thessaloniki transferring the majority of the city’s Jews to concentrations camps. Very few of the Jews of Thessaloniki managed to escape from this destiny and to survive and to start their lives from the beginning. If you happen to pass by the south side of the square, you will notice a monument that presents the Jews of Thessaloniki.
Today, the Freedom square is a parking place but it planned to be transformed to a small green park dedicated to the Jews of Thessaloniki.
The Freedom Square is very close to the Laladika area, Thessaloniki’s Port, the Cinema Museum, the Photography Museum and the Jewish Museum. For sure you will not miss it if you happen to visit Thessaloniki.