Agios Dimitrios – Biggest Chruch of Greece

Agios Dimitrios is the biggest Byzantine church of Greece. We were there on 26th Dec morning and being the day after Christmas there was a good crowd, prayers were on and we stood listening to hymns for some time. The stories about this church and the tons of history associated with it urged us make the visit.

 The church is dedicated to Saint Dimitrios who was tortured and put to death for his disgust to idolatry. During 3rd century AD when idolatry practices were still being followed, he secretly got himself baptized. He was the son of a wealthy military commander, the story goes like this… when his father died the king ordered him to chase Christians of Thessaloniki and kill them. Agios Dimitrios refused to follow the orders, so he was jailed and tortured to change his beliefs. Dimitrios was martyred by Galerius, yes the same Galerius whose arch still stands tall in Thessaloniki. Before he died in their hands he distributed all his wealth to the poor and needy. His sacrifice made him a saint!

In 324AD the emperor Constantine the Great ended the prosecution of the Christians and made Christianity the official religion of Byzantine Empire. A small church was built on the place of the martyrdom of Agios Dimitrios. Pilgrims believe His grave to be miraculous. The crypt of the saint can be accessed by a staircase behind the sanctuary. It is believed to be the same site where the saint was killed by the Roman soldiers and buried. This was converted into museum in 1988. I regret having to skip seeing this museum due to lack of time. (The crypt opens at 10.30AM.)

During 629-634AD the church was rebuilt as five-aisled basilica, the same form has continued till today. More history: In 1493, during the Turkish occupation, the church was converted into a mosque. During the period of Ottoman rule the crypt got filled up with earth and forgotten. In 1912, after the city was liberated, it became a Christian church again. Unfortunately in 1917, the church was destroyed by a fire and rebuilt according to the original plans. The crypt was rediscovered after this fire of 1917. The church started to function again in 1949.

Below are some of the pictures of the interiors of the church that I could manage to take without causing any disturbance.

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28 Responses

  1. That church has a long and complicated history! It's quite beautiful.

  2. Sylvia K says:

    Beautiful old church and, like almost everything in Greece, a fascinating history! Your wonderful captures have brought back so many great memories!! Thank you! Hope you have a great new week, Indrani!! Enjoy!!

  3. Dina says:

    Thanks for giving us the history and pictures of this gorgeous church. I love the stonework.

  4. TexWisGirl says:

    wow! an impressive structure!

  5. Gail Dixon says:

    Interesting history and a beautiful building! Enjoyed your post very much.

  6. As usual very well written post n equally supported by awesome pics !

  7. Splendid pics & fascinating history!

  8. Beautiful narration and outstanding photography.

  9. ladyfi says:

    What a gorgeous church!

  10. DIMI says:

    Hello Indrani!!
    What a great post!!Thank you for sharing the history and your gorgeous pictures from the Saint Dimitrios church!Hope you have a happy week!
    Dimi…

  11. Nora says:

    This is a beautiful posting. Great text, well written and the pictures of the Church are amazing. The artwork in there is incredible.

  12. Mridula says:

    What a fascinating history and it stands even after so many twists and turns!

  13. Beautiful photos……love the colours!

  14. eileeninmd says:

    Hello Indrani, what a beautiful church. It has an interesting history, I am glad it was rebuilt.. Your photos are fantastic, thanks for sharing your visit.. Have a happy day and week ahead!

  15. Wow… Amazing structure!

  16. Quite an interesting story and some nice photographs of the interiors

  17. D.Nambiar says:

    That's a 'different' looking church from the outside and isn't it grand inside!
    And there's a lot of history.

  18. Wow! it looks gorgeous and majestic!

  19. Carver says:

    Interesting narrative and shots of the Church. So many beautiful details.

  20. Al says:

    All your photos make me want to go back to Greece – I was very young when I was there.

  21. Nice post, Indrani. Loved those works.

  22. prepforum says:

    Beautiful pictures. The architecture is simply amazing and history of the church is intriguing! Nice post Indrani.

  23. DeniseinVA says:

    Its architecture is lovely and the stonework is very interesting. Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos and history.

  24. Beautiful pictures, Indrani!
    World is full of different kinds of people, some are kind some aren't… History teaches a lot, isn't it?
    The other thing that drew my attention is, of course, costume! It seems that the statues reveal tunic that is worn over chitons… May be it is the transition period in terms of costumes. Very interesting!
    Thank you so much for this wonderful post 🙂 TC! Keep smiling 🙂

  25. Another very very interesting post with gorgeous images. The church is beautiful!

  26. Jeevan says:

    The church looks beautiful and neatly preserved! Seems many church in Greece has been mosque for sometime… Interesting facts on history

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