In the historical center of Thessaloniki, one monument embodies the architecture and culture of the city. It carries the memories and aromas of the old Ottoman era as well as the fresh flavors of today’s fine arts. Today, Bensousan Han is a hot spot for the creatives, but it also speaks to over 200 years of local history.
Once entering the foyer, the senses are caught by the abundance of color, shapes and textures of all the curiosities lushes all over the place. The building was constructed in 1810 on behalf of Samuel Bensousan, a local merchant, and elements from that period are still visible at the lower levels. The cellar held goods, the basement held livestock. The upper floors were used as affordable dormitories for travelers and merchants. All of the rooms are organized around an octagonal entrance hall, creating a connected space.
Since it was initially built, the uses of the building have ranged from commercial to administrative. After the Second World War, steel beams were put in place to enhance the structure of the building. They created a full steel skeleton that is visible throughout the whole building. A “Magic Attic” was added as a spacious loft.
More recently, a group of artists took over the space. They revitalized the building, bringing in theatrical props and vintage furniture and creating a revolving “Prop Gallery” on the ground floor. The space is used for events put on by local and international companies, including theatrical performances, readings, and exhibitions. Bensousan Han is part of the creative movement of the present as well as an example how to reuse the architectural heritage of Thessaloniki.
Know Before You Go
Bensousan Han is located in Thessaloniki’ s “Ano Ladadika” region in Edessis Street 6. The “Prop Gallery” is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you asking the present artist nicely he or she might invite you to a full tour through all the floors.