The great church of the Theotokos (Mother of God) was erected in the decade 450-460. It is better known today as the church of the Acheiropoietos on account of the much venerated icon "made without hands" (acheiropoietos) that is preserved in it.
Representative of the so-called Hellenistic style of triple-aisled basilica with balcony, the building is one of the gems of Thessalonike and a typical example of Early Christian architecture. The absolute sense of calm that prevails in this place of worship is achieved both by its general design and its overall decoration.
Fine columns with Theodosian capitals adorned with acanthus leaves support an open upper storey with a second row of columns and arches. Mosaics of marvellous workmanship and depicting flowers, paradisiac vegetation, ears of corn, and various Christian symbols of a heavenly world beyond human comprehension have survived on the soffits of the arches.
In addition, the wall--paintings in the south aisle, portraying the Forty Martyrs and dating to 1230, are extremely helpful in understanding 13th -century painting in Thessalonike, since they are pioneering works that go beyond the calligraphic style and mannerism of late Komnenian art.