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Church of Our Lady Chalkeon

The architectural elements of the church of Our Lady Chalkeon create a harmonious whole.

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1912 - )

  2. Ottoman era (1453- 1912)

  3. Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)

    1028 Constructed by the royal chief officer of "Upper" Longobardia, Christophoros and his family.

  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 Our Lady Chalkeon, also known as the “Red Church” because of the colour of its bricks, is located in the south-western side of Dikastirion Square and is one of the few monuments of the mid-Byzantine period in the city of Thessaloniki. This Byzantine cruciform, inscribed, domed church is influenced by the local architectural tradition. It is made of brick and has three domes (two of which are in the two-storey narthex) and a marble cornice, which circles the building. Under the cornice there was a decorative belt with coloured clay tiles. On the southern side, there are plates with Kufic decorative elements, which compose the frieze. The architectural elements of the church, from the curved arches and domes to the pediments and wide variety of windows, create a harmonious whole. It is possible that the owner of the church had imposed his own aesthetics during the construction of the monument, as shown by some elements drawn from western churches. The monument’s level in relation to modern-day Egnatia Street indicates its level during the Byzantine period. The influence of Constantinople (Istanbul) architecture is evident in some elements in its interior, where the eastern arch of the “cross” does not cut through the sanctuary but is instead mediated by another arch. The religious paintings (11th century) include themes that range from the Second Advent (narthex), the Ascension (dome) and the Twelve Great Feasts, to the Saints and Sacrament (sanctuary). Only few paintings from the era of the Palaeologian dynasty survive. Finally, the central columns have tectonic capitals.

What I can't see

The name Chalkeon (=forgers) was given to the church because it was built on top of a forger portico, which had coppersmith workshops. During the Byzantine Era, it was probably called Our Lady of Chalkoprateia, after the church in Constantinople (=Istanbul), while in the Ottoman Era, it was converted into a mosque called Kazancilar Mosque, meaning “mosque of profit” or, in Greek, of the “Chalkomatades”. Even today, on the western side of the church, one can find shops with copper products. The tomb of the church’s donor is inside, by the northern wall. Although the dome is bright, the sun’s rays do not reach the bottom of the church. With the exception of a few parts, the church was built with the technique of hidden brick, ie thick and thin bricks, with the second being covered with mortar. This alternation of red and light-coloured bricks has given the church the name “Red Church”.


  • Address: 2 Chalkeon St.


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Velenis G., (2003), Μεσοβυζαντινή ναοδομία στη Θεσσαλονίκη, [Middle Byzantine church building in Thessaloniki], Academy of Athens

Zafeiris Ch., (1997), Θεσσαλονίκης Εγκόλπιον, ιστορία, πολιτισμός, η πόλη σήμερα, γεύσεις, μουσεία, μνημεία, διαδρομές, [Thessaloniki Handbook, history, culture, the city today, flavours, museums, routes], Athens: Exantas

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