Of all the Christian monuments that you are going to find in Greece, perhaps the ones in Thessalonika should get your attention. The churches were built according to central, basilica and intermediary plans.

Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessalonika you gotta go here
Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessalonika you gotta go here

Of all the Christian monuments that you are going to find in Greece, perhaps the ones in Thessalonika should get your attention. The churches were built according to central, basilica and intermediary plans. The Thessalonian Churches were built in the 4th to 15th centuries. It is for this reason that they form an important reference point. Their influence spread to Byzantine and much later to the Serbian world. Most of the Christian churches in the early Christian period as well as High Middle Ages and renaissance owe their architectural beauty to the Thessalonian Churches. Among the most renowned artistic mosaics of the early church include those of St. David and St. Demetrius.

History

315 BC – The city of Thessalonika was founded in 315 BC by a crusader named Cassander who named it after his wife Thesalonik.

AD 50 – St. Paul visited the city of Thessalonika

AD 56 – St. Paul visited again to visit a church he had founded there. You will note that this Thessalonian church was given a special consideration by Paul in his epistles. In fact, there is a whole 3 Epistles in the bible dedicated to it. The church was given to the imperial splendor that was characteristic of early Christian churches.

298 to 311 – The Palatial Complex of Galerius was built. A few years later, the Rotunda of Galerius that Galerius had planned for himself was taken over by Christians and converted into a church. It is during this time that the baths were constructed in line with a tradition left by St. Demetrius. Another building to be constructed during this time is the Basilica of St. Demetrius.

412 to 413 – The Basilica was rebuilt by Leontius and enlarged in 629 to 634 in a plan that included 5 naves and church.

Attractions

Apart from the above mentioned basilica, there are other monuments that yo9u will be able to see during your visit to the Byzantine Monuments of s. They include:

  • Cathedral of Thessalonika that was first built in 448
  • St Panteleimon Church
  • The Holy Apostles Church
  • St Nicholas Orphanos Church
  • The present St Catherine's Church

When the Ottoman gained control of Thessalonika in 1430, the churches were converted into mosques. It was not until 1912 that the city regained its tag as a cosmopolitan city. Through the Edict of Alhambra of 1492, about 20,000 Jews were driven from Spain into the city. Today, the city is a pale shadow of its former glory with more than a half of the monuments now sadly depleted. It is however still worth visiting. Apart from Rome and Jerusalem, there is probably no other city that has influenced Christianity as Thessalonika has.


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