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Profitis Helias church

Profitis Helias church is a representative example of church construction of the Byzantine period, during the Palaeologos dynasty.

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1912 - )

    1950 After it had been converted back into a Christian church, restoration took place during this decade.

  2. Ottoman era (1453- 1912)

    Converted into a mosque.

  3. Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)

    1360 During this decade, the church was built and the original frescoes were painted.

  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

It belongs to the most ornate Christian churches of the city and is from the era of the Paleologos dynasty (late Byzantine period). It is an imposing church due to its volume; it has an elaborate dome and ceramic decoration that makes the church look like a painting. We rarely find churches of this kind in the region of Macedonia. Most of them are in Istanbul. It is a three-niche cruciform inscribed church with a spacious narthex (lite) and an ambulatory. It has 7 domes in total, built with the brick-enclosed masonry system, has a wide variety of volumes, alternating surfaces and a floor for imperial ceremonies. The influences of the monastic churches of Mount Athos (large narthex, spacious side niches) are also evident, which are combined with the architecture of the Paleologian churches of Thessaloniki. To the left and right of the narthex, there are two burial chapels and two circular buildings that communicate with the sanctuary. Official documents and valuable objects were kept there. Few of the original frescoes have survived and are in poor condition. We see them mainly in the narthex and the chapels. They are characteristic for the intense realism and expressiveness and significantly influenced the frescoes of Serbian churches.

What I can't see

Several historians and archaeologists claim that this was the central church of the New Monastery of Mother of Christ (14th century), which was built on the ruins of a Byzantine palace. Another opinion is that it was the central church of the Akapni Monastery. The painted decoration, however, shows that the church may have been dedicated to Christ. During the Ottoman period, it was converted into a mosque with the name Serayli Mosque, which means the mosque of the palace. The name is probably connected to the tradition of the existence of a Byzantine palace in the area. The worship of Prophet Helias began in the 20th century and has nothing to do with the history of the church. It is quite possible that “Helias” arose from the ending “-yli” of the Turkish name “Sera-yli”.


  • Address: Olympiados & Amfilochias St.


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


Kourkoutidou- Nikolaidou E., Tourta A., (1997), Περίπατοι στη Βυζαντινή Θεσσαλονίκη, [Walks in the Byzantine Thessaloniki], Athens: Kapon publications


Paisidou M., (d.u.), Βυζαντινές εκκλησίες Θεσσαλονίκης, [Byzantine churches of Thessaloniki], Ministry of Culture, Ephorate of Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki