The Roman amphitheatre is located in the ancient suburb of Neapolis, in what is now an archaeological park, near the Greek theatre and the Altar of Hieron. The amphitheatre is on a different orientation to these other structures and probably follows the lines of an urban plan developed in the late classical period, which is reflected by the street discovered near the Sanctuary of Demeter in the suburb of Achradina. The main road from Achradina to Neapolis led up to the amphitheatre through an Augustan period triumphal arch, whose foundations are still in situ. Between the arch and the amphitheatre, there was a monumental fountain, fed by a large cistern which has not yet been identified. A separate cistern provided water to the amphitheatre itself - it is preserved under the nearby church of San Nicola.
The amphitheatre is largely excavated out of the living rock and in the north east it takes advantage of the slope of the same rocky outcrop which the Greek theatre is built into. Almost nothing of the superstructure, which was built from masonry, survives.
There were two entrances and a complicated system of steps which led from the upper levels to the exterior. At the centre of the arena there was a rectangular pit, which was originally covered. An underground passage ran from this pit to the entrance at the southern end of the amphitheatre. This pit and passage were necessary for machinary used during the shows. The seating in the cavea is separated from the arena itself by a high platform, under which was a vaulted corridor through which gladiators entered the arena. Above this were the front seats, which were reserved for high ranking individuals. The inscriptions carved on the blocks of the railing were edited by Gentili and seem to have been intended to indicate the different seating areas.
Higher up, there are another two covered walkways running around the entire arena under the seating, while a third walkway ran around the top of the monument and may have had a colonnaded portico running around the top of it. From these circular walkways, a series of radial passages allowed access to the various sectors of the cavea.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.