Church of Prophet Elijah

Thessaloniki, Greece

The Church of Prophet Elijah is a 14th-century church in Thessaloniki, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The church is located in the upper quarter of the old city, and dates to the Palaiologan period, but its original dedication is unknown. In Ottoman times, it was known as the Saraylı Mosque (Palace Mosque or Court Mosque), and through a misinterpretation of this name came about its modern dedication to the Prophet Elijah. It has been traditionally identified as the katholikon of the Nea Moni monastery, built ca. 1360–1370 on the site of a former palace destroyed in 1342 by the Zealot uprising. Modern research, however, has cast doubt on this, since the Nea Moni continued to operate well into the Ottoman period, while the church of Prophet Elijah was converted into a mosque by Badrah Mustafa Pasha immediately after the city's capture in 1430. On the basis of its internal decoration, it has been suggested that the church was the katholikon of the important Akapniou Monastery.

Its architectural style, a variant of cross-in-square church known as the 'Athonite type', is unique in the city, and was always reserved for katholika of monasteries. The careful masonry, of alternating courses of bricks and white ashlar, is also unusual for Thessaloniki and its region; it is copied from Constantinopolitan architecture. Several of its architectural features have also been interpreted as set to create an ambient atmosphere directly connected with the type of worship, through the way natural light is distributed. Fragments of the church's original decoration survive in the form of wall paintings, fine examples of late Palaiologan art, which influenced later paintings in Serbia.



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Founded: 14th century
Category: Religious sites in Greece

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Sam Aberman (9 months ago)
The Church of Prophet Elijah is a small and historic church located in Thessaloniki, Greece. It is a beautiful example of Byzantine architecture, and it is worth visiting for its history and its atmosphere. The church was built in the 14th century, and it was originally dedicated to Christ. It was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Thessaloniki in 1430, but it was restored to a church after the Greek War of Independence in 1821. The interior of the church is small and simple, but it is beautifully decorated. The walls are covered with frescoes, and the ceiling is decorated with a mosaic. The keeper of the church is very friendly and knowledgeable. He was happy to answer my questions about the church and its history, and he also recommended a walk through the old town that I really enjoyed. I would definitely recommend visiting the Church of Prophet Elijah if you are in Thessaloniki. It is a great place to learn about the history of the city and to experience Byzantine architecture.
Dimitris V. (10 months ago)
The church is of an architectural type unique for Thessaloniki, since it combines elements of the Palaiologan churches of Constantinople with characteristics of katholika on Mt. Athos. Its preserved frescos date to 1360 - 1370.
Tedmund Wan (11 months ago)
Some nice mosaics, restoration being done on some of them when we were here in March 2023.
sinan Abusnaina (2 years ago)
Roland Monsegu (4 years ago)
Nice church
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