Next to it stands the narrow Empress Anna Palaiologos gate leading into the town’s Acropolis, the fortress that withstood countless sieges. Still, Thessaloniki was sacked three times in its history. The last time, in 1430, it was the Turks, and it was through this tower that they stormed the fort. I walk through the gate and I hear a tourist next to me read aloud a fourteenth-century inscription, still comprehensible in Modern Greek today: “This portal was erected on the orders of our holy and mighty Lady Anne Paleologos..” Below, there is a later graffiti carving in Hebrew: an unnamed man is declaring his love for Rebecca. Here they are, several centuries of history on one wall.
The Turks modified the central Acropolis tower and turned it into the Ottoman governor’s headquarters. It became a notorious prison in the nineteenth century and was only closed down in the late 1980s. When the Germans arrived in 1941, the open area east of the prison was used for executions. The bodies fell into the empty cistern that in times past supplied water to the Byzantine garrison. How differently people put existing features to use through the ages!