Agia Sofia Church

Location: Egnatia   

The Byzantine Church of Agia Sofia in Thessaloniki: The church of Agia Sofia (Holy Wisdom) is among the oldet churches of Thessaloniki. The first church on this location was constructed in the 3rd century A.D. but the present church was built in the 8th century A.D, following the architectural design of the Church of Hagia Sofia in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul).

In 1205 A.D, when the Fourth Crusade caprtured the town, Agia Sofia became the cathedral of Thessaloniki and in 1430 A.D., when the Ottomans conquered the town, the church was converted into a mosque till the liberation of Thessaloniki in 1912. Then it was turned into a Christian church again but in 1917 the great fire that burnt one third of the town caused serious damages to the interior decoration and the dome. Bad damages were also caused by an earthquake in 1978, but today most of the church has been restored.

When Thessaloniki was liberated from the Nazi occupation on November 2nd, 1944, this is where the thanksgiving mass took place. The ground plan is the plan of a domed Greek cross bacilica. The exterior is pretty austere but the interior decoration has interesting frescoes and Byzantine icons. The dome is 10 metres in diameter. The church of Agia Sofia is part of the Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki that have been listed by Unesco as World Heritage Sites.

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