We start our tour at the Upper Town (Ano Poli) at Trigoniou Tower, where we visit the Old Monastery of Vlatadon. Later on, walking through the picturesque alleys of Ano Poli, we reach the Church of Hosios David.
Afterward, we continue our Byzantine walk and visit the church of Saint Nicholas Orphanos. Then, we make our way to the Byzantine Bath of Thessaloniki. We realize our next stop at the glorious Rotunda, one of the most ancient and most impressive monuments of the city. Near Rotunda, the Church of Saint Panteleimon is located.
Our next stop takes place at Aristotelous square, in the city center, where we visit the church of Panagia Chalkeon. Finally, we visit the church of Saint Sofia, the «Big Church», as it used to be the metropolitan church of the city with the famous mural painting on its dome of the 9th century and the Early-Christian chapiters of the 5th century. Saint Sofia, as well as all the previous monuments we visit, is part of the World Heritage sites of UNESCO.
The Trigonou Tower is the most famous and impressive tower of the wall. It was built in the late 15th century to prevent an invasion of the city and help during a siege. It is a great fortification project that was raised by the Turkish authorities after the occupation of Thessaloniki in 1430. Their purpose was to reinforce with an artillery tower, the sensitive point in which most invasions were accounted for. The name is due to the text of Ioannis Anagnostou, which refers to the stairs that the enemies touched on the Trigone and thus invaded the city. There is also the view that the triangle was called the triangular cantilever of the northern city walls on which the gate of Anna Palaiologina had been opened. In the Trigoniou Tower, which is also called "the balcony of Thessaloniki", you’ll have the chance to enjoy the magnificent and imposing panoramic image of the city hugging the sea. On a clear day you’ll be able to see Olympus Mountain located 150km away, without any difficulty.
The Monastery of Vlatadon is located on the northern side of Ano Poli of Thessaloniki, close to the castle walls and just opposite the tower of Paleologos. This monastery is the only surviving monastery from the Byzantine times, despite its destruction through centuries. In the Byzantine period, and particularly at the times of Paleologos (1261-1453 AD), Thessaloniki had plenty of monasteries, according to historical and travel references. The construction of monasteries was encouraged those times to strengthen the religious sentiment and keep people united. In particular, the Monastery of Vlatadon was established by two monks who were also brothers, Dorotheos and Markos Vlatis, which is why the monastery was called after them.
We start our tour at the Upper Town (Ano Poli) at Trigoniou Tower, where we visit the Old Monastery of Vlatadon. Later on, walking through the picturesque alleys of Ano Poli, we reach the Church of Hosios David. Afterwards, we continue our Byzantine walk and visit the church of Saint Nicholas Orphanos. Then, we make our way to the Byzantine Bath of Thessaloniki. We realize our next stop at the glorious Rotunda, one of the most ancient and most impressive monuments of the city. Near Rotunda, the Church of Saint Panteleimon is located. Our next stop takes place at Aristotelous square, in the city centre, where we visit the church of Panagia Chalkeon. Finally we visit the church of Saint Sofia, the «Big Church», as it used to be the metropolitan church of the city with the famous mural painting on its dome of the 9th century and the Early-Christian chapters of the 5th century. Saint Sofia, as well as all the previous monuments we visit, are part of the World Heritage sites of UNESCO.
It was probably founded by the Serbian ruler Milutin. All that survives of the monastery complex are, in addition to the katholikon, a few remains of the entrance to the propylon, with two columns, in Irodotou Street, indicating that the present road follows the same line as the old Byzantine street. During the period of Turkish domination, the church was a metochion of the Vlatadon Monastery. The church no longer has its original form, which will have been that of a three-aisled basilica. Its core consists of a long, timber-roofed hall enclosed on three sides by an ambulatory. This is covered by lean-to roofs, at a lower level than the one over the main area, and terminates at the east in two symmetrically placed chapels. The nave communicates with the north and south arms of the ambulatory through double-arched openings and with the west, which acted as a narthex, by a small entrance.
A Byzantine bath (loutra), perhaps dating to the late 12th or early 13th century, is located in the Upper Town of Thessaloniki near the Palaiologan Church of Taxiarches and a Byzantine cistern. It is one of the 15 Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki that were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988. The recently restored bath of Thessaloniki is a rare example of a bath surviving from the Byzantine era and also shows Byzantine influence on Ottoman hamams.
The Rotunda, built in the early 4th century, is an ancient impressive roman monument inscribed in the World Heritage List of Unesco. It was probably first constructed as a mausoleum for the Emperor Galerius, who had his seat at Thessaloniki at the end of the 3rd century and the beginning of the 4th. It was part of the impressive building complex which included the Galerius Palace (Navarinou Square), the Hippodrome, the Arch of Galerius (Kamara) and other buildings in Thessaloniki. The Christians decorated the walls of Rotunda with a mosaic of an unbelievable variety of colors, while the figure of Christ was depicted in the center of the cupola in a shining sphere, in the colors of the rainbow. Unfortunately, only little can be seen nowadays of this composition.
The Church of Saint Panteleimon is a late Byzantine church in Thessaloniki, Greece, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church lies in the eastern part of the old city, near the "Rotunda", at the junction of Iasonidou and Arrianou streets. Its current dedication to Saint Panteleimon was given to the church after the end of Ottoman rule in 1912, and its original dedication is therefore disputed. In Ottoman times, it was converted into a mosque in 1548 and became known as Ishakiye Camii ("Mosque of Ishak "), which in the prevailing scholarly interpretation points to an identification with the late Byzantine Monastery of the Virgin Peribleptos, also known as the Monastery of Kyr Isaac after its founder Jacob, who was the city's metropolitan bishop in 1295–1315 and became a monk with the monastic name of Isaac. A counter-argument however supports the theory that the present church is unrelated to the Peribleptos Monastery, and that it was converted into a mosque ca. 1500
Panagia Chalkeon is an 11th century church located south of the ancient agora of Thessaloniki near the center of the old city. The Byzantine name of the Panagia Chalkeon is not known; this name echoes the Turkish designation Kazancilar Camii, deriving from the fact that from the Byzantine period until the present day there have been copper-smith's workshops around the church. The Byzantine church was probably called Panagia Chalkoprateion, like the church of that name in Constantinople. According to the founder's inscription on the lintel of the west entrance, the church was built in 1028 by the royal protospatharios Christophoros, the katepan of Lagoubardia, and his family, in a place that had been ‘profane before' — that is, a place in which there had previously been a pagan house of worship. We may note that, according to the archaeological evidence, the 'sacred area' of ancient Thessaloniki was located to the south-west of the Byzantine church.
Hagia Sophia, the Great Church, which served as the metropolitan church of Thessaloniki throughout much of its history, was constructed on the remains of the large, five-aisled episcopal Basilica of Saint Mark following its destruction in the early 7th century. Although the church is now freestanding at the center of a city block, in the Middle Ages it was surrounded by buildings, including the putative remains of the medieval episcopal residence to the north. Scholars have dated the building anywhere from the mid-6th to the mid-8th century. Based on comparative studies of its architecture and deco-ration, the building was probably erected during the third quarter of the 8th century, that is, at the end of the First Iconoclastic period. In its pres-ent form, the church is a concrete cubic structure that is almost square in plan.
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