The Church of Rotunda, Thessaloniki, Greece
An ancient place, Church of Rotunda, Thessaloniki is definitely worth a visit. It is very much within walking distance from the big Byzantine churches and other heritage monuments.
Church of Rotunda, Thessaloniki – History
Wiki mentions it was built in 307 AD by Galerius with intentions of it being his mausoleum. His remains got buried in Serbia where he died in 311AD. Constantine later converted Rotunda of Galerius into a church.This is the oldest church of Thessaloniki. Some Greek publications claim it to be the oldest church in the world. If it is so I feel I am extremely blessed and lucky to been able to visit it.
The interiors were then decorated with beautiful mosaic work, parts of which have survived centuries of wear and tear. After 1200 years of use as a church it was converted into a mosque by Ottomans and called as the Mosque of Suleyman Hortaji Effendi. Only recently in the last century, in 1912 it was recaptured by Greeks and converted back in to a church. The minaret is a reminder of its past identity as a mosque.
The 1978 earthquake couldn’t damage it much luckily. It is a robust structure with 25.4m dia, 34m high and the walls are more than 6m thick. When we saw it in Dec 2014, the interiors were being repaired. Whatever mosaic work is visible is very impressive. The ancient monument is like a treasure house right in the heart of the city. The mosaics look magical when sun light reflects off them. In its days with its designs complete with colorful mosaic; it must have looked grand, one can only imagine!
Opening Time of Rotunda, Thessaloniki
The Rotunda is open daily 08.30-15.00 (Monday excluded)
Church of Rotunda is located near a students’ college. Plenty of place to take coffee break and gaze at the ancient monument.