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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

The Ascension
Christ in a mandorla supported by two angels, section of the Ascension, late 9th century, Thessalonike, church of Agia Sophia.

The apostles Andrew and Paul
The apostle Andrew with a cross and Paul with a Gospel book standing among leafy trees; detail of the Ascension, late 9th century, Thessalonike, Church of Agia Sophia.

PreviousUpNext The metropolitan church of Ayia Sophia, Thessalonike


The Ascension
Late 9th century


The apostles Andrew and Paul
Late 9th century

Ayia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) was once the metropolitan church of Thessalonike; it was built in the 7th century on the site of a large Early Christian basilica with three aisles.

The design of the church, a large dome and arcades on three sides making a single tripartite unit of the narthex and the side aisles, illustrates one of the early stages in the transformation from the architectural type of basilica to the cruciform domed church.

Mosaics of various dates are preserved in the interior. The cross on the sanctuary vault, projected against a blue background and lying in a multi-coloured circle, dates to the period of iconoclasm (8th century). There used to be another iconoclastic cross in the sanctuary apse; it was replaced after the triumph of the iconophiles (843) by an image of the Virgin Enthroned with Christ, a large portion of which fell down and was restored in the 12th century.

The mosaic of the Ascension, executed about 885, is an outstanding example of Byzantine art remarkable for its abstract character and the way in which it is fitted in the space available. The wall-paintings preserved on the intrados of the windows in the narthex portray important monastic figures and are dated to the 11th century. It is a rather conventional work displaying drawing and technical weaknesses and is part of the "painterly" trend which occurred in mid-11th century art.

See Also
History - The dark ages (565-867)
The Church (565-867)
Civilization - Coinage and pottery (565-867)
Travelling - Byzantine Macedonia


Macedonian Heritage
Content courtesy Ekdotike Athenon S.A.