The history of Aristotelous square began with a fire that destroyed two thirds of the city in 1917. Until that point – due to centuries of Ottoman rule – Thessaloniki was an Oriental city, with no square. Moreover, any attempt to design one had been thwarted by the impossibility of demolishing an area which had been built too densely. However, what cannot be achieved by architects can be accomplished by fire. The project was prepared by Frenchman Ernest Hébrard in 1918, but finalised only in 1950.