The Fethiye Mosque is located on the northern side of the ancient Roman Agora in Athens and was built on the ruins of a Christian basilica from the middle Byzantine period (8th/9th centuries). The Christian church was converted into a mosque in 1456/58, soon after the Ottoman conquest of the Duchy of Athens, to coincide with the visit to the city by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1458.
Only a fragment of the mihrab survives from this mosque, which was demolished and replaced by the present structure between 1668 and 1670. The new mosque comprises a porch and a large rectangular main hall, crowned by a dome supported by four pillars. The central dome is flanked by half-domes on each side, and by smaller domes on each corner. The porch is supported by five arches, each crowned by a small dome, resting on masonry on the sides and four pillars in the middle. During the brief occupation of the city by the Venetian forces in the Morean War (October 1687 – May 1688), the mosque was converted by the Venetians into a Catholic church, dedicated to Dionysius the Areopagite.
Following the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, in 1824 the disused mosque was used as a school by the Filomousos Eteria of Athens. At about the same time, or shortly after the end of the war, the mosque's minaret was torn down. From 1834, after Greek independence, and until the early 20th century, it was used successively as a barracks, a military prison and finally as a military bakery, at which point additions were made to the building to house the bakery's kilns. From the early 20th century it is used mostly as a storage place for various finds from the excavations in the Agora and the Acropolis of Athens.
Except for the removal of recent additions and the restoration to its original shape in 1935, the mosque has never undergone a complete restoration, and by 2010 had developed serious structural problems. In autumn 2010, the Greek Ministry of Culture ordered the emptying of the building from the various antiquities stored there, and the beginning of the process to restore it and open it to the public. Today it is open to the public.References:
Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.
Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.
The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.
The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.
The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.