Preiļi Palace was originally built in the early 19th century and the structure was converted between 1860 and 1865 into its present English Neo-Gothic form, also called Tudor style. The interior was destroyed in a February 1978 fire and has not been restored.
The estate was owned by Count Borhs family from 1382 to 1864. It initially contained a castle of the Livonian order, which was devastated by Russian tsar Ivan the terrible at the time of the Russian invasion in the second half of the 16th century, during the Livonian War. The castle was not reconstructed though. Instead, a new palace was built, which was set on fire at the beginning of the 18th century.
A two-storied Neo-Gothic palace was erected on the site in about 1836, according to the architectural project of architects A. Beleckis and G. Schacht. Later, the building was remodelled and a round castle-type turret located at the northeast side was added to the structure. The construction was initiated at the beginning of the 19th century and finished during the 1860s. The third story with a wooden construction for a campanile was built between 1891 and 1910. In February 1978, the palace was burnt down again and for many years remained without a roof.
The Preiļi landscape park covers 41,2 hectares, of which 13,2 are covered by ponds. Some architectural monuments in the park, such as a chapel, stables, the palace itself and the park's main cottage, may be visited. The Preiļi History and Applied Art Museum, opened in 1985, is also part of the Preiļi estate. The museum collection comprises mainly historical items, besides more than 10,000 items created by local and foreign artists.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.