Rotonda Monument

Location: Rotonda   

The famous Rotonda of Thessaloniki, Macedonia: The Rotonda (or Rotunda) is one of the most important Roman monuments in Thessaloniki. It stands just next to the Arch of Galerius in the city centre and it is also known as the Church of Agios Georgios. This cylindrical structure was built in 306 AD by the Roman tetrarch Galerius, who intented it to be his grave. At first, it worked as a temple but it remains unknown to which god this temple was dedicated.

Eventually, Galerius died in 311 AD and he was buried in Felix Romuliana, modern Serbia. In the 4th century AD, the Byzantine emperor Constantine I converted it into an Orthodox church and many frescoes were painted inside, some of which survive today on the walls of Rotonda.

In the 14th century, the Ottomans occupied Thessaloniki and in 1590, the Rotonda was converted into a mosque. In fact, a minaret was added to the building that has been restored and survives till today. In 1912, the Greeks deliberated Thessaloniki and Rotonda was converted into an Orthodox church again, till 1979, when a strong earthquake caused serious damage to the structure. Presently, the Rotonda has been restored and works as a sculpture museum. Also, it frequenlty hosts various exhibitions.

The Rotonda has a diameter of 24,5 metres and its walls are more than 6 metres thick, which has protected the monument from time, sieges and eartquakes. This is one of the oldest Orthodox churches and has been included in the UNESCO list of the World Heritage Sites. In fact, all Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki were included in this list in 1988.

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