Aigli Geni Hamam

aig.jpgThis is the #1 destination for anyone who is stuck in the city or just returned from vacations and want to feel like they did not. If you are in town for a few days only this is a must visit as it combines the historical visit with a relaxed drink or dinner.

This is a 16th century building that was originally build as a Hamam during the Otoman era. It later became an open air cinema, then a place for cultural events and after that remained closed for several years.

It is now more beautiful than ever, functioning as a relaxed coffee bar restaurant.  It is located just behind the church of Saint Demetrios so you can go for a coffee right after your visit to the church. As dusk falls, the place completely transforms to an exotic back yard with the big screen showing chill out videos transferring your mind to far away places !

Where :  Ag. Nikolaou & Kassandrou

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Ancient Roman Forum

Located on the upper part of Aristotelous square, you can easily miss it as you pass through Filippou or Olympou street as it is located a few meters below street level.

This is however a very important historical monument in the heart of the city !

The_Roman_forumThe Roman ‘forum’ (market place complex) of the time of the Antonines and the Severans (2nd-3rd century AD) was situated on the site where possibly the Hellenistic ‘agora’ once stood. Due to the incline, the buildings were disposed on two terraces (Upper and Lower Agora) connected by a stone staircase.
The square Upper Agora was paved and surrounded by stoae (porticoes) with two-tiered columns and decorated floors. On the eastern side there was the library and the odeum. Because of the considerable difference between the two levels, a ‘cryptoporticus’ (double subterranean stoa) was constructed under the south portico of the Upper Agora; this structure faced the Lower and served as supporting wall for the Upper Agora and as refuge in bad weather.
The facade of the ‘forum’ towards the Via Regia (present-day Via Egnatia) was splendid: the two-tiered southern stoa of the Lower Agora had a platform to the south-east and bore relief figures of Maenads, Dionysos, Ganymede etc. – today in the Louvre Museum – known as ‘idols’ or ‘Las Incantadas’ (the bewitched ones).

There is a “hidden” museum inside the market, also not easily visible, but once you are there, ask if it is open.

Opening hours:
01Jun – 31Oct Mon-Sun, 0800-1500
01Nov – 31May Tue-Sun, 0800-1500

Visiting Information  • Free admission• Fixed hours• Organized archeological site
Ancient monuments  • Mosaics(Roman period, 31 BC-AD 324)• Stoas(Roman period, 31 BC-AD 324)• Odeum(Roman period, 31 BC-AD 324)• Buildings(Roman period, 31 BC-AD 324)
Ancient agora  • Roman period, 31 BC-AD 324

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Byzantine church of Saint Dememtrius

Church of St Demetrius

Church of St Demetrius

26th of October is a big day for the city of Thessaloniki.  It is the nameday of the city’s patron saint, Saint Demetrius.  He was born in Thessaloniki in 270 AD and was executed also here in 305 AD after being tortured on the crypt below the church.  After the growth of his veneration as saint, the city of Thessaloniki suffered repeated attacks and sieges from the Slavic people who moved into the Balkans, and Demetrius was credited with many miraculous interventions to defend the city

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, dating from a time when Thessaloniki was the second largest city of the Byzantine Empire. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath.  The church was eventually reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels that survived through the difficult times the church has passed over the years, depicting St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration and with children.  Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church.   Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.

Underneath the Church of St Demetrios is the cypt, the place where St Demetrios, Thessaloniki’s patron saint, was martyred.

Crypt of St Demetrius

Crypt of St Demetrius

As the level of the ground gradually rose over the centuries, this area acquired the form of a crypt. According both to tradition and to archaeological findings, it was an old bathhouse, in which Demetrios was imprisoned and eventually martyred in ad 303. In the 5th century, when the first Church of St Demetrios was built, the site of his martyrdom was incorporated into the church and the fountain was converted into a source of holy water. In the years that followed, the fountain acquired basins, from which the faithful could collect myron, the sweet-smelling oil produced by the saint’s relics. The crypt filled up with earth during the period of Ottoman rule and was not rediscovered until after the fire of 1917. It has been restored by the Archaeological Service and was converted into an exhibition space in 1988.

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