Rotunda is the most exceptional historical and architectural monument of the city.
Modern and Contemporary era (1912 - )
1912 Operated as a Greek Orthodox church until 1914.
1917 Converted into Macedonian Museum after Eleftherios Venizelos commission.
1920 It housed Byzantine and early christian sculptural collections, until 1920.
1978 Suffered serious damages by Thessaloniki's earthquake. The monument is now restored.
Ottoman era (1453- 1912)
At that time, it was called Old Cathedral or Eski Metropol.
1523 Probably used as Thessaloniki's Cathedral.
1590 Its conversion into a mosque started by Hortatzis Süleyman Efendi and Sinan Pasha.
Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)
Converted into a christian church.
Roman era (30 BC- 330 AC)
306 A.D. Constructed around that period, during Caesar Galerius' rule.
Hellenistic era (322- 31 BC)
Classical era (478-323 BC)
Archaic era (800-479 BC)
Geometric era (-1100- 800 BC)
Prehistory (-1100 BC)
What I can see
The Rotunda is a monument that existed during four historical periods, from the Roman to the Modern Era. It is an inter-religious historic monument and has been the subject of exploiting propaganda by religious and nationalist groups in recent years. It was given its name by foreign travellers because of its circular shape. It is often compared to the Pantheon in Rome. There are differing opinions about the purpose of its construction. The first argues that it was the temple of the Zeus or Cabirus; the second, that it was Galerius’ mausoleum and the third that it was mausoleum of Constantine the Great. The first is the most likely scenario. It was later converted into a Christian church and then, into a mosque. The diameter of the building is 24.4 metres, its height 29.8 metres, while the cylindrical wall is 6.3 metres wide, which consists of eight rectangular niches, of which the southern was also the main entrance. During its Byzantine conversion into a Christian church (probably during Emperor Theodosius’ rule, 379-395 AD) the eastern niche was opened up, in order for a sanctuary to be created. The mosaics in the arches of the niches are particularly impressive. Many believe that the Rotunda is the city’s main landmark because of its historical and architectural importance. Unfortunately, it is a monument surrounded by modern buildings, which impedes its view from most parts of the city. Nowadays, it is considered one of the most significant Christian monuments and the surrounding area is full of life.
What I can't see
On the axis of the Rotunda there used to be a street, which connected the Arch of Galerius (Kamara) with the Galerius palace complex on the current route of Dimitiou Gounari Street. Its conversion into a Christian church, which included a now lost, new-western entrance with a narthex, had a significant impact on the statics, which led to integral parts of the Rotunda collapsing. In fact, an earthquake demolished the arch of the sanctuary, which was rebuilt either in the 7th or -according to others- in the 8th century and exterior buttresses were constructed to support it. The mosaics inside are of exceptional importance and beauty, including various -mainly natural- motifs and forms. These mosaics of the 4th century AD were banded into three zones, the martyrs’ zone, the angels’ zone and, at the top, the Divine Appearance of Christ Triumphant, as shown by traces of the part of the mosaic that is not preserved today. The lowest is the best preserved, a rare example of early Christian art, with serene and expressive faces, influenced by the Hellenistic tradition. It is quite possible that after a strong earthquake in 820 AD the sanctuary was rebuilt and operated as an independent church, while the rest of the monument remained in ruins due to the high cost of restoration. That is probably why we do not find any other decoration of this period, apart from that in the sanctuary. These days, Rotunda is also called Agios Georgios, because of the neighbouring homonymous small church. Finally, to the west of the Rotunda, there is a fountain from the Ottoman period, and to the east, the tomb of Hortatzis Süleyman Efendi.
Unsigned, (2012), Ροτόντα, Θεσσαλονίκη, [Rotunda], Odysseus, Ministry of Culture and Athetics,
Last visit 7/4/2014
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