Agora Modiano, the largest food market in Thessaloniki, is a must-see destination shaping the new gastronomic face of the city. A history rich with drama and modern innovation are interwoven in the facility itself, introducing visitors to a novel concept of food hospitality.
Thessaloniki is known as a gastronomic center of attraction for true foodies. Vibrant, cosmopolitan, and welcoming, this city has assimilated the diverse cultures of various peoples, infusing it with their traditions.
The history of this market began a few years before its construction and is closely connected with one of the most dramatic events in the history of Thessaloniki, namely the great fire of 1917. The fire practically burned down the city center, including the Jewish Quarter. The flames destroyed the ancient synagogue of Talmud Torah, which was built in the 16th century. It was at this location where a new trading center for the city would be re-established from ashes.
The great fire of #Thessaloniki in 1917 burned the Talmud Tora synagogue, on top of which #Eli_Modiano, the Italo-Jewish architect and owner of the property built the #ModianoFoodMarket in 1930. @GRinStrasbourg @israelinCoE @ItalyatCoE pic.twitter.com/pNJiNTAaLB
— Michael Nakos (@MichaelNakos) November 26, 2022
Following a destructive fire, a blueprint was formulated for the reconstruction of Thessaloniki. The French architect Ernest Hébrard devised a scheme that envisioned the establishment of a bustling marketplace in this area. The project was undertaken by the engineer and architect Eli Modiano.
Eli Modiano was a member of one of the most prominent Jewish families in the city. The construction of a new market, which would later become the center of trade in Thessaloniki, began in 1922 and was completed only a few years later.
Modiano’s time studying in Paris largely impacted his work on the Thessaloniki project. The interior of the new market with a roof made partially of glass was reminiscent of Parisian ones. The new trade center opened its doors to locals and visitors in 1930.
The building itself organically complemented the ambitious plan for the reconstruction of the city, becoming part of the public center around the new Aristotle Square.
Over the decades, Agora Modiano has developed a reputation as the city’s main market. More than one generation of residents bought goods here, and the building itself was included in the list of architectural monuments back in 1983. A little over a decade later, in 1995, Modiano was classified as a historical monument and an example of a covered market building.
After serving the city for almost a century, the market closed to undergo a complete renovation. It reopened in 2022. Thessaloniki has been crowned as a unique gastronomic place. It has been completely modernized but also maintains original features.
A Modern Page of the Modiano Market
The basilica-shaped building can be accessed from two streets through the main entrances. Inside, there is a main pathway along with two others and there are about seventy-five shops with various local products. The interior is quite spacious with lots of light, and there are obvious historical elements, including the original mosaic on the floor.
Shops offer seafood, local ice cream with olive oil, nuts, spices, and cheeses. The shop owners and sellers are eager to share the history of various Greek products and offer their guests the opportunity to sample them. They also cook fresh pasta and bake bread, the inviting aroma of which attracts passers-by off the street.
Visitors can also sample dishes and food items from a variety of international cuisines. Italian, German, Greek, and Asian dishes along with an abundance of vegan options are a reflection of the openness to experimentation found here. On the second floor, there is a recreation and dining area, which is decorated with modern art installations.
Furthermore, the market embodies the concept of responsible consumption. Bioclimatic architecture can be found here. The area’s climatic attributes and natural characteristics are utilized to design comfortable, environmentally-friendly structures. In addition to this, the market of Modiano adheres to a zero-waste operation policy in an attempt to deal with overconsumption.