Feb 27, 2015

The Church of Rotunda, Thessaloniki

An ancient place, Rotunda is definitely worth a visit.It is very much within walking distance from the big Byzantine churches and other heritage monuments. Wiki mentions it was built in 307 AD by Galerius with intentions of it being his mausoleum. His remains got buried in Serbia where he died in 311AD. Constantine later converted this monument into a church.This is the oldest church of Thessaloniki. Some Greek publications claim it to be the oldest church in the world. If it is so I feel I am extremely blessed and lucky to been able to visit it. The interiors were then decorated with beautiful mosaic work, parts of which have survived centuries of wear and tear.

 After 1200 years of use as a church it was converted into a mosque by Ottomans and called as the Mosque of Suleyman Hortaji Effendi. Only recently in the last century, in 1912 it was recaptured by Greeks and converted back in to a church. The minaret is a reminder of its past identity as a mosque.

Rotunda with a minaret, this pic for SkyWatch Friday.

Arabic script over the doorway

The 1978 earthquake couldn’t damage it much luckily. It is a robust structure with 25.4m dia, 34m high and the walls are more than 6m thick. When we saw it in Dec 2014, the interiors were being repaired. Whatever mosaic work is visible is very impressive. In its days with its designs complete with colorful mosaic; it must have looked grand, one can only imagine! .

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Feb 25, 2015

Roussanou Nunnery, Meteora, Greece

A picture of Roussanou Nunnery in Meteora; the weather God was kind to us during our visit to Meteora. It was a bright sunny day. All the Monasteries and Nunneries looked grand and glowing, bathed in sunlight. I think I was really lucky to get this frame of Roussanou Nunnery, bathed in bright white clouds. The sight stayed for a short while. Only a few lucky tourists like me could witness this sight. As the sun went up there was no sign of such low clouds. (Click to enlarge and see.)

Thursday challenge: BRIGHT, SUNNY


Feb 23, 2015

Agios Dimitrios - Biggest Chruch of Greece

Agios Dimitrios is the biggest Byzantine church of Greece. We were there on 26th Dec morning and being the day after Christmas there was a good crowd, prayers were on and we stood listening to hymns for some time. The stories about this church and the tons of history associated with it urged us make the visit.

 The church is dedicated to Saint Dimitrios who was tortured and put to death for his disgust to idolatry. During 3rd century AD when idolatry practices were still being followed, he secretly got himself baptized. He was the son of a wealthy military commander, the story goes like this... when his father died the king ordered him to chase Christians of Thessaloniki and kill them. Agios Dimitrios refused to follow the orders, so he was jailed and tortured to change his beliefs. Dimitrios was martyred by Galerius, yes the same Galerius whose arch still stands tall in Thessaloniki. Before he died in their hands he distributed all his wealth to the poor and needy. His sacrifice made him a saint!


In 324AD the emperor Constantine the Great ended the prosecution of the Christians and made Christianity the official religion of Byzantine Empire. A small church was built on the place of the martyrdom of Agios Dimitrios. Pilgrims believe His grave to be miraculous. The crypt of the saint can be accessed by a staircase behind the sanctuary. It is believed to be the same site where the saint was killed by the Roman soldiers and buried. This was converted into museum in 1988. I regret having to skip seeing this museum due to lack of time. (The crypt opens at 10.30AM.)

During 629-634AD the church was rebuilt as five-aisled basilica, the same form has continued till today. More history: In 1493, during the Turkish occupation, the church was converted into a mosque. During the period of Ottoman rule the crypt got filled up with earth and forgotten. In 1912, after the city was liberated, it became a Christian church again. Unfortunately in 1917, the church was destroyed by a fire and rebuilt according to the original plans. The crypt was rediscovered after this fire of 1917. The church started to function again in 1949.

Below are some of the pictures of the interiors of the church that I could manage to take without causing any disturbance.

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Feb 21, 2015

Faces of India - 201


A load is a load is a LOAD, even if it is light sack of bright and colorful flowers. This is a common scene in Bangalore during festival time. The lady was hurrying to get a proper place in the open market so that she could make quick sales.

Faces of India, a series through which I intend to portray the various characters of my country whom I met during my travels. See more here.

Feb 19, 2015

Arch of Galerius, Thessaloniki

You can never miss this Arch of Galerius while you are in Thessaloniki. It is there out in the open for all to see. I wonder if it has become too ordinary a sight for the locals there. The place did look like a meeting place for all, and they all seemed busy chatting with each other. Only a few tourists like me stood gaping at the crumbling but massive structure. What stunned me to silence was the contrast of 21st century apartment complexes and the 3rd century Roman arch! Frankly those modern buildings looked pale in comparison to this grand architecture. It is really impressive of they have preserved such small packets of history while letting the city grow around it the same time!

It was built in AD 303 by Galerius, then Caesar of east to celebrate his victory over Persians in AD 297. The third smaller arch has disintegrated and disappeared over a period of time, but the remaining structure has some amazing carvings. They are mostly stories and scenes from the battle. Some of them have eroded away and those that survived time speak volumes of unwritten history. Thessaloniki was important then, it is important today too! What a great city!


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