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Ali Eniss, Landing opposite Olympus Square, modern print from a glass negative

Salonika, "Jerusalem of the Balkans", 1870-1920. The Pierre de Gigord donation

from September 19, 2023 to April 21, 2024

A cosmopolitan city, like other major ports in the Levant, Salonika - Greek Thessalonika under the Ottoman Empire - was for a long time a Jewish city, where shopkeepers of all denominations closed on Saturdays and during Jewish holidays. The 150 works in the mahJ exhibition tell the story of Salonika from the second half of the 19th century to the end of the First World War.

Showcasing a selection of almost 150 items, the exhibition recreates the history of Salonika from the second half of the 19th century to the end of the First World War. From men and women in their traditional costumes, humble craftsmen, porters and shopkeepers, to members of the local "aristocracy" - linked to Europe by family and commercial ties - society is revealed. Urban modernisation: the quays and the White Tower, the cafés, restaurants and entertainment venues; the rural sector where the notables established their residences; the deprived areas where the fledgling industries were set up, making Salonika the leading working-class city in the Ottoman Empire. But also, in the now Greek city, the great fire of August 1917, a real trauma for the Jews who saw their historic quarters, the municipal archives and more than thirty synagogues swept away by the flames, before the geopolitical upheavals caused by the First World War.

Media Image
Ali Eniss, Les quais de la gare de Salonique
Ali Eniss

The platforms of Salonika station, modern print from a glass negative © mahJ

Anonyme, Le cimetière juif, autochrome

the Jewish cemetery, autochrome © mahJ

Paul Zepdji, Portefaix (Hammals) juifs
Paul Zepdji

Jewish porters (Hammals), albumen print © mahJ

Ali Eniss, Les quais de la gare de Salonique
Anonyme, Le cimetière juif, autochrome
Paul Zepdji, Portefaix (Hammals) juifs

The donation of almost 400 photographs and documents to the mahJ by Pierre de Gigord, a great collector devoted to the history of the Ottoman Empire, with an astute eye and admirable generosity, represents a major enrichment for the mahJ, whose collection is now a reference on the "Jerusalem of the Balkans". The albumen prints of the first local photographer, Paul Zepdji, and the previously unpublished glass plate negatives of Ali Eniss, druggist at the German consulate and passionate amateur who wrote a lively photographic chronicle of the city, bring a vanished world back to life. There are also autochromes, albums by amateur photographers, documents from the photographic service of the Army of the East, postcards, brochures and magazines that tell the story of life in the city.


Pierre de Gigord

A graduate of the École nationale supérieure des Arts décoratifs and a keen traveller of the Orient, Pierre de Gigord began assembling the richest private collection of early photographs of the Ottoman Empire in the 1980s. From the earliest photographic processes (daguerreotypes by Girault de Prangey, Constantinople, 1843) to the 1920s (autochromes, stereoscopic views, silver prints, etc.), the collection covers all the techniques and media used by professional and amateur photographers of the period.  Books (early tourist guides, accounts by travellers, diplomats and archaeologists), illustrated newspapers, magazines, maps and ephemera (brochures, invoices, advertisements, etc.) complete the collection. The donation to the mahJ of the finest items from the exceptional collection he has built up on Salonika is a major addition to the museum's collection.


Curatorship : Catherine Pinguet and Nicolas Feuillie

With the support of

Logo AEJP European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage


In partnership with

Logo photo days


Auditorium foyer

Rates and reservation

MahJ ticket to permanent collection and exhibitions:

Full rate: 10 €
Reduced rate: 7 € (18-25 year non European Union residents)
Free access : Friends of the mahJ, under 18, 18-25 year European Union residents. See more
Free access to everyone on the First Saturday of the month until June (Free access to the permanent collection, to Joseph Dadoune and Salonique).

Online booking is recommended, including for free ticket holders, Paris Museum Pass holders and Friends of the mahJ.


Purchase your entrance ticket:

Book tickets*
On site, at the ticketdesk, during museum opening hours
By phone, (33)1 53 01 86 57 (Tuesday and Wednesday from 10.30 am to 1 pm)
* Secured payment by credit card with a surcharge of €0.50 per ticket.
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