Hagia Sophia (Thessaloniki)
The Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

, Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, is one of the oldest churches in that city still standing today. It is one of several monuments in Thessaloniki included as a World Heritage Site on the UNESCO list.


Since the 3rd century, there was a church in the location of the current Hagia Sophia. In the 8th century, the present structure was erected, based on the Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

 in Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 (present-day Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

, Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

). In 1205, when the Fourth Crusade
Fourth Crusade
The Fourth Crusade was originally intended to conquer Muslim-controlled Jerusalem by means of an invasion through Egypt. Instead, in April 1204, the Crusaders of Western Europe invaded and conquered the Christian city of Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire...

 captured the city, the Hagia Sophia was converted into the cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

 of Thessaloniki, which it remained after the city was returned to the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 in 1246. After the capture of Thessaloniki by the Ottoman Sultan Murad II
Murad II
Murad II Kodja was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1421 to 1451 ....

 on 29 March 1430, the church was converted into a mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...


Its ground plan is that of a dome
A dome is a structural element of architecture that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Dome structures made of various materials have a long architectural lineage extending into prehistory....

d Greek cross basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

. Together with the Gül
Gül Mosque
Gül Mosque is a former Eastern Orthodox church in Istanbul, Turkey converted into a mosque by the Ottomans.- Location :The building is located in Istanbul, in the district of Fatih, in the neighborhood of Ayakapı , along Vakif Mektebi Sokak...

 and the Kalenderhane Mosque
Kalenderhane Mosque
-External links:* * * * *...

s in Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 and the destroyed Church of the Dormition
Dormition of the Theotokos
The Dormition of the Theotokos is a Great Feast of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches which commemorates the "falling asleep" or death of the Theotokos , and her bodily resurrection before being taken up into heaven. It is celebrated on August 15 The Dormition...

 in Nicaea
İznik is a city in Turkey which is primarily known as the site of the First and Second Councils of Nicaea, the first and seventh Ecumenical councils in the early history of the Church, the Nicene Creed, and as the capital city of the Empire of Nicaea...

, it represents one of the main architectural examples of this type, typical of the Byzantine middle period
Byzantine architecture
Byzantine architecture is the architecture of the Byzantine Empire. The empire gradually emerged as a distinct artistic and cultural entity from what is today referred to as the Roman Empire after AD 330, when the Roman Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire east from Rome to...


In the Iconoclastic era, the apse
In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome...

 of the church was embellished with plain gold mosaics with only one great cross, similarly to the Hagia Irene
Hagia Irene
Hagia Irene or Hagia Eirene , often erroneously rendered in English as St Irene, is a former Eastern Orthodox church located in the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, Turkey. It is open as a museum every day except Monday but requires special permission for admission.-Church:The...

 in Constantinople and the Church of the Dormition in Nicaea. The cross was substituted with the image of the Theotokos
Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God...

 (God-bearer, or Mary) in 787-797 after the victory of the Iconodules
An iconodule is someone who espouses iconodulism, i.e. who supports or is in favor of religious images or icons and their veneration, and is in opposition to an iconoclast, someone against the use of religious images...

. The mosaic in the dome now represents the Ascension of Jesus Christ with the inscription from Acts
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

 1:11 "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?". The dome is ringed by the figures of all Twelve Apostles, the Virgin Mary
Mary (mother of Jesus)
Mary , commonly referred to as "Saint Mary", "Mother Mary", the "Virgin Mary", the "Blessed Virgin Mary", or "Mary, Mother of God", was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee...

 and two angels.

Much of the interior decoration was plastered over after the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917
Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917
250px|thumb|The fire as seen from the quay in 1917.250px|thumb|The fire as seen from the [[Thermaic Gulf]].The Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 was an accidental fire that got out of control and destroyed two thirds of the city of Thessaloniki, second-largest city in Greece, leaving more than...

. The dome was not restored until 1980.

Hagia Sophia is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 Monuments of Thessaloniki
on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO

External links

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