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Byzantine Thessalonike

The Rotunda
The church of the Acheiropoietos
The basilica of Ayios Demetrios
The chapel of Ayios Euthymios
The monastery of Hosios David
The metropolitan church of Ayia Sophia
The church of the Panayia Chalkeon
The church of the Ayioi Apostoloi
The church of Ayios Nikolaos Orphanos
The church of Prophitis Elias
Vlatadon Monastery
The White Tower
The walls of Thessalonike

Images on this page

Dedication of a child to Saint Demetrios
Mosaic scene of a woman leading a child towards the saint, mid 5th century, Thessalonike, basilica of Agios Demetrios.

Saint Demetrios with the donors
Saint Demetrios with the two founders of the church, the eparch (provincial governor) Leontios, and bishop Ioannis, 634-700, Thessalonike, basilica of Agios Demetrios.

The Virgin and Saint Theodore
Mosaic portraying Saint Theodore and the Virgin holding a scroll inscribed with a supplication, 9th century, Thessalonike, basilica of Agios Demetrios

PreviousUpNext The basilica of Ayios Demetrios, Thessalonike


Dedication of a child to Saint Demetrios
Mid 5th century


Saint Demetrios with the donors
634-700


The Virgin and Saint Theodore
9th century

The basilica of Ayios Demetrios possesses a strong emotional appeal to the people of Thessalonike, while at the same time it constitutes a museum of Byzantine art on account of the successive phases of its building (5th and 7th centuries, and reconstruction in the 20th century). It was erected over the site of the Roman baths where the saint was martyred and where the earliest place of his worship once stood (4th century).

Its form, a five-aisled basilica with an additional transverse aisle in front of the sanctuary, resembles a cross in plan, denoting the site as a place of martyrdom. The sculptured architectural members and marble panelling of the walls vest the monument with the magnificence that befits the martyr Demetrios.

The decoration is complemented with 7th century wall-paintings and mosaics dating from the 5th to the 7th centuries and to the 9th century; they lack iconographic coherence, the main subject being the saint portrayed with the donors of the church or with a variety of other figures.

The mosaics are unique and of particular note in connection with the art of the Early Christian period, for in this instance the principles of Hellenistic art have not been entirely abandoned, although painting is becoming gradually more flat and more abstract.

See Also
History - Late Antiquity (324-565)
Christianity (324-565)
Civilization - Churches (324-565)
Travelling - Byzantine Macedonia


Macedonian Heritage
Content courtesy Ekdotike Athenon S.A.