Photographer's Note

Rotunda of St. George.
It is now the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George (Agios Georgios), better known as the Church of the Rotunda (or simply The Rotunda). The cylindrical structure was built in 306 on the orders of the tetrarch Galerius, who was thought to have intended it to be his mausoleum. It was more likely intended as a temple; it is not known to what god it would have been dedicated.

The Rotunda has a diameter of 24.5 m. Its walls are more than 6 m thick, which is one reason why it has withstood Thessaloniki's earthquakes. The walls are interrupted by eight rectangular bays, with the south bay forming the entrance. A flat brick dome, 30 m high at the peak, crowns the cylindrical structure. In its original design, the dome of the Rotunda had an oculus like the Pantheon in Rome.

After Galerius's death in 311, he was buried at Gamzigrad (Felix Romuliana) near Zajecar, Serbia); however, the structure stood empty until the Emperor Constantine I ordered it converted into a Christian church in the 4th century. The church was embellished with very high artistic quality mosaics. Only fragments survived of the original decoration, for example a band depicting saints with hands raised in prayer, in front of complex architectural phantasies.

The building functioned as a church for over 1,200 years until the city fell to the Ottomans. In 1590 it was then converted into a mosque, the Mosque of Suleyman Hortaji Effendi, and a minaret was added to the structure. It remained a mosque until 1912, when the Greeks captured the city during the Balkan War. It was then formally re-consecrated into a church, but the minaret was not demolished. The structure was damaged during an earthquake in 1978 but was subsequently restored. As of 2004[update], the minaret was still being stabilized with scaffolding. The building is now a historical monument under the Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities of the Greek Ministry of Culture though the Greek Orthodox Church tries to reclaim it back for Orthodoxy every so often.The Rotunda is the oldest of Thessaloniki's churches, and some publications in Greece claim that it is the oldest Christian church in the world, although there are a number of other claimants to that title. It is certainly the most important surviving example of a church from the early Christian period of the Greek-speaking part of the Roman Empire...wikipedia
* see my Here WS another shot!

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Additional Photos by Georgios Topas (TopGeo) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4041 W: 93 N: 8298] (38216)
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