If not for my friend N who was joining our Greece holiday from Doha for 5 days, I wouldn’t be able to do anything touristic in Thessaloniki. The Greek Mister hates being a tourist in his own city but that resulted to him not really knowing anything about his own city. Lol. Like the Rotunda of Galerius for example, he didn’t know what it was even if its commanding presence was very hard to miss. I had to search about it on the internet to have a bit of information.
We were all taken by surprise as soon as we walked inside it, it was majestic and will take your breathe away. To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting much from it as it looked so plain from the outside. The interior was massive with incredible and very detailed Byzantine mosaics on its ceiling. Sadly, due to numerous earthquakes over the centuries most of it was damaged.
The Rotonda or Rotunda (I don’t really know which spelling is correct as both are being used) has a very interesting history. It was constructed in the 4th century as a mausoleum for Emperor Galerius but was never used as such.
It was then converted as a Christian church in the late 4th century or early 5th century, nobody knows the exact dates as there was no written documentation about its conversion. Dating has to be based on analysis of the style of the mosaics and the historical situation of Thessaloniki in these early centuries.
When the Ottoman Turks ruled Thessaloniki, the Rotonda (or Rotunda) was then converted as a mosque. That’s a total of 3 religions housed in Rotunda! You may think that after all the transfer of religions, the original design would’ve been destroyed but luckily, they have just painted over the original mosaics so a lot of it is still evident up to this day.
The Rotunda has been undergoing extensive restorations ever since the destructive earthquake of 1978. For such a long time, it’s been closed to the public and they’ve only opened it again last December 2015. Even if you’re not into churches, mosques and museums – I think the Rotunda will be able to captivate your curiosity. Having said that, don’t ever miss out on visiting it if you find yourself in Thessaloniki.
Rotunda of Galerius
Ayios Yioryos Sq. Thessaloniki, Greece
Winter: Daily, 8.00-17.00
Summer: Daily, 8.00-19.00
Entrace fee: EUR2.00 per person, Reduced price EUR1.00 per person
Reduced Admission for:
– Greek citizens and citizens of other Member – States of the European Union who are over 65 years old, upon presentation of their ID card or passport for verification of their age and country of origin.
– The accompanying parents on educational visits of elementary schools.
– University students and students at Technological Educational Institutes or equivalent schools from countries outside the EU by showing their student ID
Free Admission Days:
6 March (in memory of Melina Mercouri)
18 April (International Monuments Day)
18 May (International Museums Day)
The last weekend of September annually (European Heritage Days)
Every first Sunday from November 1st to March 31st
1 January: closed
25 March: closed
Good Friday: free entrance
Holy Saturday: 08.00-15.00
1 May: closed
Easter Sunday: closed
25 December: closed
26 December: closed
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