Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki has a group of 15 UNESCO World Heritage sites built between the 3rd and 14th centuries. 13 of them are churches or monasteries. They are all located within walking distance of other important sites in Thessaloniki. On three separate trips, I was able to visit 10 of the sites, and they are listed here in chronological order of construction. Not included are the Church of St. Dimitrios and the Rotunda of Galerius, which are covered in separate posts.

 

Thessaloniki City Walls

First, above the modern city center in Ano Poli (Upper Town) are the old walls of the citadel of Thessaloniki. These walls protected the entire city all the way to the port from about the late 3rd century until the Ottomans demolished most of them in the late 19th century. Important sites on the remaining walls include the Trigono Tower and Gate of Anna Palaiologina.

City walls in Thessaloniki, Greece

City walls

City walls in Thessaloniki, Greece

City walls

Trigono Tower in Thessaloniki, Greece

Trigono Tower

 

Church of Panagia Acheiropoiitos

The oldest surviving Byzantine church in the city is the Church of Panagia Acheiropoiitos. It was built in 450 AD and was the first church in Thessaloniki converted into a mosque, Eski Camii. The conversion was personally performed by Ottoman Sultan Murat II in 1430. It remained a mosque until 1912.

Church of Panagia Acheiropoiitos in Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of Panagia Acheiropoiitos

 

Hagia Sophia

There has been a church on the site of Hagia Sophia since the 3rd century, but the current building is from the 8th century and was modeled after Hagia Sophia of Constantinople. It became a Catholic cathedral in 1205 after being captured in the Fourth Crusade, and was reconsecrated as an Orthodox church in 1246. Sultan Murat II converted Hagia Sophia into a mosque, Ayasofya Camii, on March 29, 1430, and it remained one until the liberation of Thessaloniki in 1912.

Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki, Greece

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki, Greece

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki, Greece

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki, Greece

Hagia Sophia

 

Church of Panagia Chalkeon

Built in 1028 by a Byzantine dignitary, the Church of Panagia Chalkeon was converted into a mosque in 1430. The name of the mosque was Kazancılar Camii, and it remained a mosque until 1912. It’s located at Plateia Dikastirion in the city center.

Church of Panagia Chalkeon in Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of Panagia Chalkeon

Church of Panagia Chalkeon in Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of Panagia Chalkeon

 

Church of St. Panteleimon

The history of the Church of St. Panteleimon is disputed. It was built in the 14th century and thought to be part of a monastery complex. The church was converted into a mosque, İshakiye Camii, around 1500. The current name was given to the church after its rededication in 1912.

Church of St. Panteleimon in Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of St. Panteleimon

 

Church of the Holy Apostles

The Church of the Holy Apostles was built around 1329 as part of a larger monastery complex. It was turned into a mosque, Soğuksu Camii, after Ottoman conquest of Thessaloniki. The current name of the church was applied after reconsecration.

Church of the Holy Apostles in Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of the Holy Apostles

 

Transfiguration Chapel

Transfiguration Chapel is a tiny Byzantine structure built in the 14th century. It served as a cemetery chapel for a monastery. I can’t find any information indicating it was used as a mosque.

Transfiguration Chapel in Thessaloniki, Greece

Transfiguration Chapel

Transfiguration Chapel in Thessaloniki, Greece

Transfiguration Chapel

Transfiguration Chapel in Thessaloniki, Greece

Transfiguration Chapel

 

Church of Prophet Elijah

The Church of Prophet Elijah was built in 1370 as part of a larger monastery complex. It was converted into a mosque, Saraylı Camii, in 1430 by Badrah Mustafa Paşa, and remained as one until 1912.

Church of Prophet Elijah in Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of Prophet Elijah

Church of Prophet Elijah in Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of Prophet Elijah

Church of Prophet Elijah in Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of Prophet Elijah

Church of Prophet Elijah in Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of Prophet Elijah

 

I didn’t have a chance to visit Vlatadon Monastery, the Byzantine Baths, the Church of St. Nicholas Orphanos, the Church of St. Catherine, or the Church of Osios David. I will update this page when I have a chance to do so.

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