International student Kushal S Mehta from Jaisalmer, India, created SIGMAG, a biannual digital free press publication promoting “lesser known second-tier cities which are full of inspiration”. The first issue is dedicated to Thessaloniki, which Mehta states does not get all the attention it deserves.

The 26-year-old student states that Thessaloniki is a “beautiful and vibrant city”, and he has come to know and love it since he moved there two years ago to study for an MSc in Hospitality and Tourism Management at the International Hellenic University.

He told the Athens News Agency that most foreigners are only familiar with Athens, and islands like Mykonos and Santorini. He hopes that his publication will help readers discover cities like Thessaloniki that are not that well known but still have plenty to offer.

Among the city’s positive features, Mehta cites the great cuisine and the city’s small size which makes it easier for visitors to navigate on foot.

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In the introduction of the Thessaloniki Special, writers and volunteers involved in the magazine’s creation point to how the city “kept the creative spark ignited” at a difficult time for Greece. The magazine states that the area is “full of beauty, chaos, history, culture, youth, energy, cuisine, diversity”.

SIGMAG’s contents include interviews with founders of nonprofit organisations, publishers of free-press magazines, architects, poets and art curators.

“Tucked between relics of Byzantine and Ottoman antiquity are art galleries, bohemian nightclubs, and culinary hot spots, all part of a grassroots vision turned reality by Thessaloniki’s large do-it-yourself youth culture,” states that magazine.

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Mehta’s hopes to build a “bridge between Greece and Asia”, and is now preparing the second issue of his magazine, inviting those who wish to contribute, either as volunteers or through crowdfunding. The team has also started another project called ‘1000 reasons to Love Thessaloniki’ that aims to collect 1000 video testimonials of people and personalities stating the top three reasons why they love Thessaloniki.