The Church of Saint Demetrius is located at the city center, while it is dedicated to Saint Demetrius the patron Saint of the city. Architecturally, it is a five-aisled basilica with an oblique aisle and is undoubtedly one of the most important Byzantine city monuments.
When was founded the Church of Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki?
It dates from the time when Thessaloniki was the second largest and most important city of the Byzantine Empire, while since 1988 is on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO as a Paleochristian and Byzantine monument.
According to researchers the first early Christian church was built by Leontios in 412 AD but it was destroyed by a big fire. The second church was built at the same spot in 628 AD and according to the tradition, this was an area very close to the Roman baths where St Demetrius martyred, thus it was believed that the water of the baths could cure diseases.
The biggest destruction for the Church of Saint Demetrius.
The church suffered many damages due to attacks and fires with the most serious one, this of 1917, when the fire burnt the ⅔ of the whole city. After a series of additional works and renovations, the building took its current form in 1958.
What are the highlights of the Thessaloniki Cathedral?
A very important date for the church was the year 1978 when the remains of St Demetrius returned to Thessaloniki from Italy. Thus, the visiting faithful can worship the remains of St. Demetrius which are placed in a silver reliquary, and also see the crypt where the Saint was imprisoned and martyred.
The guest can also admire some great mosaics from the 8th century, murals dedicated to Byzantine Emperors, as well as the painting of Archbishop of Thessaloniki Gregorius Palamas.