The Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki is one of the oldest churches in the city still standing today. It is one of several monuments in Thessaloniki included as a World Heritage Site on the UNESCO list.

Since the 3rd century, there was a church in the location of the current Hagia Sophia. In the 8th century, the present structure was erected, based on the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey). In 1205, when the Fourth Crusade captured the city, the Hagia Sophia was converted into the cathedral of Thessaloniki, which it remained after the city was returned to the Byzantine Empire in 1246. After the capture of Thessaloniki by the Ottoman Sultan Murad II on 29 March 1430, the church was converted into a mosque. It was reconverted to a church upon the liberation of Thessaloniki in 1912.

Its ground plan is that of a domed Greek cross basilica. Together with the Gül and the Kalenderhane Mosques in Istanbul and the destroyed Church of the Dormition in Nicaea, it represents one of the main architectural examples of this type, typical of the Byzantine middle period.

In the Iconoclastic era, the apse of the church was embellished with plain gold mosaics with only one great cross, similarly to the Hagia Irene in Constantinople and the Church of the Dormition in Nicaea. The cross was substituted with the image of the Theotokos (God-bearer, or Mary) in 787-797 after the victory of the Iconodules. The mosaic in the dome now represents the Ascension. The dome is ringed by the figures of all Twelve Apostles, Mary and two angels.

Between 1907 and 1909 Byzantine historian Charles Diehl restored the whole building that underwent many damages during a fire in 1890. Much of the interior decoration was plastered over after the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917. The dome was not restored until 1980.

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Founded: 8th century AD
Category: Religious sites in Greece

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

IVA BESHEVA (13 months ago)
A must see, architectural masterpiece.
Anthony Manmohan (13 months ago)
Darker decor but has a nice front garden and a side wall which is popular for sitting on and especially in the evening.
Stephan Stetina (14 months ago)
Orthodox church, very impressive on the inside
Pierros Zevolis (14 months ago)
Pretty nice historical church at a central square of the city.
Asiyah Noemi Koso (15 months ago)
Beautiful and very impressive Byzantine church. We were pleasantly surprised and impressed by the beauty of St. Agia Sofia's Church. The Church of St. Sophia is located in the center of Solun, at the intersection of the street of the same name and the Ermu Street. It is dedicated to Jesus Christ, the Truth, the Word and Wisdom of God. This church is large and richly decorated. The church was built in the 7th century, on the ruins of a large, five-aisled basilica dating back to the 5th century AD. The atmosphere in the church is beautiful and pleasant. The interior is very beautiful and richly decorated. Mosaic, which is now in the dome of the church, represents the ascension of Jesus Christ with an inscription from work 1:11. "You men of Galilee who stand and look to heaven". In the dome there are also all 12 apostles, the Virgin as well as the two angels. Rich history and interesting architecture attracts a multitude of visitors.
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