Church of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary was founded at the same time as the city of České Budějovice in 1265; initial construction was completed around 1300. It is a monumental Gothic building with Baroque and Rococo additions and unique medieval fresco paintings.
In spite of numerous rebuildings of the church, convent buildings and the cloister, the exterior of the church is preserved in the early Gothic style. Lanced windows have the typical Gothic tracery- circled three-leaves, divided into two parts which are ended by rosettes. Massive supporting columns with no decoration ended in the isosceles triangle protrude to the exterior. The eastern frontage and the lanced niche with smaller window are the part of town fortifications. Seven former decorative niches, typical for the early Gothic churches are maintained on the peak.
There is placed the frog from stone under the roof. According to the legend, when the frog reaches the top of the roof the end of the world comes.
The interior of the church is preserved in former early Gothic style with small Baroque complements in the eastern part. The three-nave basilica church with the embedded transept and the southern entrance is connected by two portals to the cloister. Low aisles are divided from the nave by six pairs of columns. There is a cross vault with profiled ribs in seven bays. On the side which is opened to the nave the profile of ribs continues to the ground while on other sides ribs are ended by simple supports. On the southern wall former consoles with vegetable motives can be seen. The vault of the nave is also cross, and it is divided into ten bays and there is one with five bays above the chancel. Keystones in naves are decorated. On brackets of ribs different human heads are represented instead of vegetable motives in the nave.
There are extremely valuable murals, date back to 14th century, in the church. The unique one is the dual-mural in niche which is opposite to the southern entrance in the direction of transept: older part shows the painting of the holy Virgin, the Christ and knelt donator. On the left from the niche there is situated the biggest mural in the Czech Republic- the mural of the Saint Christopher which has almost 10 metres.
The oldest chapel is probably a gothic chapel of Margaret the Virgin. King Ottokar II of Bohemia grounded the chapel in 1267 and in 1633 earl Baltasar Marradas rebuilt the chapel as the Marian chapel. There was placed the picture of Virgin Mary of České Budějovice from the 15th century. The Gothic chorale chapel is also meant in sources. Nowadays chapels are not preserved, they broken down during the rebuilt of the monastery which started in 1885. The chapel of Saint George together with the monastery´s library were the only objects of the whole monastery which were not damaged during the fire in 1381.The Czech chapel was established on the first floor of former belfry which dates back to 15th century. The chapel is preserved but there is not public access. Nowadays smaller baroque chapel abuts to the southern wall of the church.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.