The Ancient Agora (Roman Forum)
The Ancient Agora (Roman Forum), which was revealed during archaeological excavations in 1966, is located south and in close distance from Egnatia street, surrounded from Filippou, Agnostou Stratiotou, Olympou and Makedonikis Amynis streets. The period in which the Roman Forum of Thessaloniki was built is argued to be between 42BC-138AD. During these years many forums were built in various Roman provinces, almost in an identical way. Another view indicates that the Roman Forum is a work of the Roman Tetrarch period (late 3rd and early 4th century AD). Based on the models of the forums which the Romans had built in many provinces of the Empire, the Roman Forum was built in the centre of the fortified Thessaloniki, exactly at the point where two main streets, the one orientated from north to south (cardo) and the other from east to west (decumanus), intersected. It constituted the economic, political, social and religious center of the city for many years.
The Roman Forum was set around a rectangular stone-paved square having a length of 146m and a width of 97m, which was free only from the north side, and comprised arcades and large public buildings. So far the eastern side of the site has been uncovered, and consists of the Square with the eastern and southern arcade, the Cryptoporticus, the Mint, the Bathhouse and the Odeon. It corresponds to approximately two thirds of the whole stretch of the original Forum.
Cryptoporticus, the southern arcade was two storeys in height and was constructed for levelling the inclination of the ground. On the east side of the Roman Forum, the Odeon can be found with access through five marble doors and final capacity (after three reconstructions) of 2000-2500 people. Until the 19th century, in the southeastern entrance of the Roman Forum, a group of females statues were preserved, but now they are residing in the Louvre Museum in Paris. They had the form of two-faced pillars, depicting Mainada, Ariadni and Leda on one side and Niki, Avra, Dioskouri and Ganemedes on the other. They had the form of two-faced pillars, depicting Mainada, Ariadni and Leda on one side and Niki, Avra, Dioskouri and Ganemedes on the other. The “Ikantada” (charmed), as the residents used to call them, were part of a magnificent complex, the Arcade of Images. The western arcade of the Ancient Agora was called the “Copper Arcade” because it housed many coppersmiths, a tradition which continues even today both with the many shops selling copperware but also with the copper craftsmen whose workshops lies in Chalkeon (“coppersmith”) street.
Throughout the area of the Roman Forum, collonades, floor mosaics, apses, water and drainage piping have been found, together with statues, jars, coins etc.