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Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessalonika

Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessalonika

Founded in 315 B.C., the provincial capital and sea port of Thessalonika was one of the first bases for the spread of Christianity. Among its Christian monuments are fine churches, some built on the Greek cross plan and others on the three-nave basilica plan. Constructed over a long period, from the 4th to the 15th century, they constitute a diachronic typological series, which had considerable influence in the Byzantine world. The mosaics of the rotunda, St Demetrius and St David are among the great masterpieces of early Christian art.

Monuments paléochrétiens et byzantins de Thessalonique

Fondée en 315 av. J.-C., Thessalonique, capitale provinciale et ville portuaire, fut l'un des premiers foyers de diffusion du christianisme. Ses monuments chrétiens offrent des exemples éminents d'églises de plan central, de plan basilical ou de plan intermédiaire au cours d'une période allant du IVe au XVe siècle, constituant ainsi une série typologique diachronique dont l'influence fut considérable dans le monde byzantin. Les mosaïques de la Rotonde, de Saint-Démétrios et de Saint-David sont au nombre des grands chefs-d'œuvre de l'art paléochrétien.

النصب التذكارية المسيحية القديمة والبيزنطية في عاصمة تسالونيكا

كانت العاصمة المحلية والمدينة المرفئية تسالونيكا التي تأسست عام 315 قبل الميلاد إحدى أماكن انتشار المسيحية. وتوفّر النصب المسيحية فيها أمثلةً بارزة على الكنائس ذات التصميم المركزي والبازيليكي والمتوسط في خلال فترة تمتدّ من القرن الرابع حتى القرن الخامس عشر. وقد شكّلت مجموعةً تصنّفية تعاقبية متطورة كان تأثيرها بالغاً على العالم البيزنطي. وتندرج فسيفساء كنائس لا "روتوند" والقديس ديمتريوس والقديس دافيد في عداد المأثورات الكبرى في الفن المسيحي القديم.

source: UNESCO/ERI

塞萨洛尼基古建筑

塞萨洛尼基州首府和海港建于公元前315年,是最早的基督教传播地之一。基督教建筑包括宏伟的教堂,有的按照希腊人的十字形设计,有的为包括三座中殿的长方形教堂。从4世纪到15世纪,教堂的修建历经了漫长工期,也因此反映了同一类型的教堂在不同历史时期的特点,这对拜占庭世界产生了相当大的影响。圆形建筑、圣德米特里和圣戴维兹教堂的马赛克艺术是早期基督教艺术中的伟大杰作。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Раннехристианские и византийские памятники в городе Салоники

Основанный в 315 г. до н.э. как столица провинции и морской порт, город Салоники был одним из первых центров распространения христианства. Среди его раннехристианских памятников – прекрасные церкви. Одни из них имеют в плане форму греческого креста, другие – трехнефной базилики. Строившиеся в течение долгого времени – с IV до XV вв., они оказали большое влияние на изменение архитектуры всего византийского мира. Мозаики Ротонды, храмов Св. Димитрия и Св. Давида входят в число великих шедевров раннехристианского искусства.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Monumentos paleocristianos y bizantinos de Tesalónica

Fundada en el año 315 a.C., la ciudad portuaria de Tesalónica fue capital provincial romana y uno de los primeros focos de propagación del cristianismo. Entre sus monumentos cristianos figuran ejemplos notables de iglesias de planta central, planta basilical y planta intermedia que, al haber sido construidas entre los siglos IV y XV, constituyen una serie tipológica diacrónica de influencia considerable en el mundo bizantino. Los mosaicos de la Iglesia Rotonda, San Demetrio y San David figuran entre las grandes obras maestras del arte paleocristiano.

source: UNESCO/ERI

テッサロニーキの初期キリスト教とビザンチン様式の建造物群
ギリシア北部、エーゲ海のセルマイコス湾に臨む古都。紀元前4世紀に建設された古代マケドニアの最重要都市の一つで、さまざまな民族との抗争、大地震と火災が繰り返されるなかで、今なお古代ローマの建造物、ビザンチン時代のモザイクやフレスコ壁画を伝えるキリスト教聖堂、トルコ支配下での幾多のモスクなどの遺構が豊富に残されている。

source: NFUAJ

Vroegchristelijke en Byzantijnse monumenten van Thessaloniki

De provinciale hoofdstad en zeehaven Thessaloniki werd in 315 voor Christus gesticht. Het was een van de eerste bases voor de verspreiding van het christendom. Er zijn prachtige christelijke monumenten te bewonderen, waaronder kerken. Sommige zijn gebouwd naar het patroon van het Griekse kruis, andere als een basiliek met drie schepen. Gebouwd gedurende een lange periode, vanaf de 4e tot de 15e eeuw, vormen ze een diachronische typologische serie, die grote invloed had in de Byzantijnse wereld. De mozaïeken van de rotonde - Sint Demetrius en Sint David - behoren tot de grote meesterwerken van de vroege christelijke kunst.

Source: unesco.nl

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Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessalonika © UNESCO
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

Founded in 315 BC, the provincial capital and sea port of Thessalonika was one of the first bases for the spread of Christianity. Among its Christian monuments are fine churches, some built on the Greek cross plan and others on the three-aisled basilica plan. Constructed over a long period, from the 4th to the 15th century, they constitute a diachronic typological series, which had considerable influence in the Byzantine world. The mosaics of Thessalonika’s monuments (such as the Rotunda, Saint Demetrius and Hosios David [Latomou Monastery]) are among the great masterpieces of Early Christian art.

The monuments of Thessalonika inscribed on the World Heritage List are public edifices of various functions, religious, secular, military, including the 4 km long city walls. Because of their outstanding design and major artistic value these monuments are included among the most significant of the Byzantine period. Throughout the Byzantine era, the city constituted a cultural centre that determined the developments not only in immediately surrounding but also in neighbouring areas. It played an active or even competitive role in artistic trends originating in Constantinople.

The monuments of Thessalonika reveal a continuous artistic exchange with the greatest cultural centres of each era (Rome, Constantinople). The city itself was an important artistic centre, from its foundation and throughout the Byzantine period. Wall painting ensembles, mosaics and frescoes, preserved in Thessalonika’s monuments, represent some of the major artistic trends, that have been developed in Byzantine monumental painting from its beginnings (the Rotunda, Saint Demetrius, Hosios David), through the first period after iconoclasm (Saint Sophia) and the Comnenian period (Hosios David frescoes) to its culmination known as the Palaeologan Renaissance (late Byzantine period). To this last period belong significant monuments such as the Holy Apostles, the chapel of Saint Euthymios in the Church of Saint Demetrius, Saint Nikolaos Orphanos, Saint Panteleimon, the Transfiguration of the Saviour, Saint Aikaterini, Prophitis Ilias, the Katholikon (main church) of the Vlatadon Monastery which reflect all the tendencies of the Palaeologan Renaissance. 

Criterion (i): The mosaics of the Rotunda, Saint Demetrius and Hosios David’s (Latomou Monastery) are among the great masterpieces of Early Christian art. 

Criterion (ii): The influence of the Thessalonian churches on the development of the monumental arts was considerable first in the Byzantine and later the Serbian world, whether in the Early Christian period, the Middle Byzantine era or the Palaeologan Renaissance. 

Criterion (iv): The Christian monuments of Thessalonika are outstanding examples of churches built according to central, basilical and transitional architectural types over a period going from the 4th to the 15th century. For this reason they constitute a series which is a typological point of reference.

Integrity

All monuments are preserved intact, or as in the case of the city walls, with minimal losses. The boundaries are adequate to protect the fabric of the monuments and there are buffer zones for some of them. The continual use of the buildings (from their foundation until today) proved beneficial to their state of conservation, despite certain inevitable interventions.

There is a risk of natural disasters such as earthquakes while the fact that the monuments are all in a developing and changing urban area may lead to pressures from time to time.

Authenticity

All monuments, despite any interventions over the centuries, maintain all elements (architecture and decoration) of their initial phase. In the first quarter of the 20th century the monuments commenced to be restored and low quality recent interventions or additions were removed (e.g. the porch of the Church of the Holy Apostles and the buttresses of the church of Prophitis Ilias). Minor restoration projects that were always documented were carried out (e.g. the south dome of the narthex of the Church of Panagia Chalkeon). Exceptionally, a large scale restoration was carried out in the church of Saint Demetrius, after the disastrous fire of 1917. During the last 30 years small scale rescue restorations were generally carried out. The restoration and consolidation work as well as landscaping realised until now in the monuments of Thessalonika contributed to their maintenance and the enhancement of their authenticity.

Protection and management requirements

The properties are protected by the provisions of the Archaeological Law 3028/2002 “On the Protection of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage in general” and by separate ministerial decisions published in the Official Government Gazette. Protection and management are carried out by the Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs through the responsible regional service (Ephorate of Antiquities of Thessaloniki City). The specific terms of protection are defined in detail by separate ministerial decrees for each monument.

The use of the Byzantine churches is granted to the Church of Greece (Saint Sophia, Saint Demetrius, Acheiropoietos, Saint Panteleimon, the Transfiguration of the Saviour, the Holy Apostles, Saint Aikaterini, Prophitis Ilias, Panagia Chalkeon) and to the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Saint Nikolaos Orphanos, Hosios David [Latomou Monastery], Vlatadon Monastery).

Restoration of the roof of Hosios David (Latomou Monastery) and landscaping of the surrounding area in 2002, launched the last series of conservation interventions (3rd Community Support Framework). Subsequently the following works were carried out: a) landscaping of the surrounding area in sections of the walls of Heptapyrgio, of the byzantine Bath, of Prophitis Ilias, b) consolidation of the mosaics in Rotunda, Saint Demetrius, the Holy Apostles, c) consolidation works in Acheiropoietos, Rotunda minaret, Heptapyrgio, Tower of Trigonio, and d) exemplary restoration of Saint Panteleimon church, awarded the Europa Nostra prize. Heptapyrgion’s use has changed: it now houses the offices of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Thessaloniki City and two permanent exhibitions. Furthermore, Heptapyrgio is open to visitors with free entrance. It is also an area for outdoor events. The Tower of Trigonio is open to the public.

In the context of the Peripheral Development Corporate Plan further restoration works are carried out on the monuments. The Ephorate of Antiquities of Thessaloniki City in collaboration with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki implements also the project “Prospelasis” which is intended to facilitate access of people with disabilities. The aim of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Thessaloniki City is to create better conditions in order to facilitate the accessibility of monuments not only to scientific groups but also to a wider public. Daily effort is required for the protection and enhancement of the monuments as they are integrated in a modern city, and consequently burdened by human activity.