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Church of Agia Sophia (Hagia Sophia)

Agia Sophia is a cruciform church, the first ever domed in Thessaloniki and is one of the most important monuments of Christianity.

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1912 - )

    1912 Reopened as a Christian church.

    1913 The Bulgarian guard had been fortified inside the church during the bloody battle with the Greek soldiers.

  2. Ottoman era (1453- 1912)

    1523 On this or the following year, it was converted into a mosque.

    1890 It was destroyed by a great fire. The Turks repaired it in the early 20th century under the supervision of Byzantinologist Charles Diehl, adding decorations, preserved to this day. As early as the end of the Ottoman period, an interest in Byzantine monuments began, both by scientists (inside and outside the empire) and the Gate (Ottoman Palace).

  3. Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)

    Constructed during either the 7th or the 8th century AD. Archbishop Pavlos is mentioned as the owner of the church. Here was the city's administrative centre.

    1204 During the Frankish period (ending 1224) it was converted into a Catholic cathedral.

  4. Roman era (30 BC- 330 AC)

  5. Hellenistic era (322- 31 BC)

  6. Classical era (478-323 BC)

  7. Archaic era (800-479 BC)

  8. Geometric era (-1100- 800 BC)

  9. Prehistory (-1100 BC)

What I can see

The Church of Hagia Sophia is one of the most important monuments of Christianity. It is a cruciform church with an unusual dome which belongs to the second construction phase and rests on four large and other smaller marble columns. The capitals of the northern colonnade date to the 5th-6th century AD and come from the earlier basilica that stood on the site. The capitals of the southern colonnade were destroyed in an 1890 fire and were replaced with plaster ones. Both the northern and southern aisles are roofed with barrel vaults, while the dome’s drum is square-shaped on the outside, with three windows on each side. The mosaics and frescoes date to different periods: the 8th century (sanctuary arch, large cross in a starry circle, monograms of Emperor Constantine XVI, his mother Irene and Metropolite Theophilus), the 9th century (the mosaic composition of the dome depicting the Ascension of Christ, one of the most important works of Byzantine art, thanks to its colours and realistic features that were influenced by the prolific classicism of the Macedonian dynasty), and the 11th and 12th centuries (the Enthroned Virgin part and the depictions of monks and Saints on the windows of the outer narthex).

What I can't see

It was built during the 7th century AD on the ruins of the five-aisled early Christian basilica, which was erected on top of Roman buildings and probably destroyed by an earthquake in 620. The creator of the church took the foundations of the previous church seriously and adapted his initially ambitious design. As a result, this type of sanctuary was the result of a technical solution and does not fit into any architectural tradition. The church is dedicated to wisdom (in Greek: sophia) and to the Word of God and is the first example of Thessaloniki’s transition into a Byzantine city by copying the design of the homonymous church (Hagia Sophia) of Constantinople (Istanbul). The earlier basilica of the 5th century was the first Episcopal Church in the city. Then, Agia Sophia became the metropolis of the co-reigning Thessaloniki (to the reigning Constantinople/Istanbul) and was also called the “Great Church” before it became a mosque in the 16th century. In this church and its adjacent square, the city’s biggest national and religious events have taken place, including doxologies, demonstrations, funerals of public figures, and more. Also inside the church, tombs of leading ecclesiastical figures have been found. Nowadays, along with the church of Αgios Dimitrios and the cathedral of Agios Grigorios, the church is at the heart of the city’s faithful.


  • Address: Agias Sophias Sq.


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