The greater area of Thessaloniki is inhabited since prehistoric times, while noteworthy is the fact that Thessaloniki has been a city throughout its history without ever losing that status.
Long before the creation of the city and for 23 centuries, the area of the Thermaic Gulf was full of settlements dating back to the Stone Age. To date, seven of these prehistoric settlements have been found in the area, which proves that the place was inhabited from the fifth or sixth millennium B.C.
The history of Thessaloniki begins around 315/6 B.C. when Cassandros later King of Macedonia (the husband of the sister of Alexander the Great) united the surrounding settlements into a larger new city, giving the city the name of his wife, Thessaloniki. The new city was created in an area of great geostrategic importance - at the end of the valley of Axios river. It soon became a metropolitan center, a profile that has maintained until today, a very considerable achievement for a history of 23 centuries.
Thessaloniki developed and became the second largest city of the Empire after Constantinople, and of the most important administrative and military centers of the Empire. The city’s fortifications were the second after Constantinople's both in size and importance. The city's population grew rapidly in the late 15th century and the first decades of the 16th.
From the mid-19th century and early 20th, Thessaloniki entered a new era. During this period, the Ottoman Empire attempted major social and economic reforms. As such, with the advent of the 20th century it had gas, lighting, trams, telephone, modern docks at the port and the most important, its first industries.
The truly modern age of the city begins with its release. The Greeks quickly became the dominant population in the city, introducing new management and clarifying the Ottoman past. The great fire of August 1917, which destroyed the "oriental" character of much part of the city and most part of the center, contributed to the great change of the look and character of the city. Asia Minor refugees in the 1920s and their large accommodation needs contributed to it decisively.
Local traditions, the unique history of the city at the crossroads of cultures and people, affected the cultural and the artistic expression of Thessaloniki, creating a folkloric and popular tradition, especially in music, which was unique in its kind.