One of the oldest churches still standing today is the Agia Sophia Church. It was built as a miniature of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople in the 7th century. Parts of its original interior decorations still exist - 8th to12th century mosaics on the dome and 11th century frescoes in the narthex.
After the Fourth Crusade had captured Thessaloniki in 1205, Hagia Sophia was converted into the cathedral of the city. After the Ottoman Sultan Murad II had captured the city in 1430, the church was converted into a mosque and was not reconverted to a church until Thessaloniki was liberated in 1912.
It is now inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The last church in the center that day would be Agia Sofia (Holy Wisdom), one of the oldest and probably the largest church in Thessaloniki that was built where an early christian church stood since 5rd century AD that was destroyed by an earthquake in 620.
Unfortunately the church was closed and couldn’t check the interior, so I stop for some minutes outside to read about it. A kid approached me selling candles but I told him it makes no sense to have a candle with the main door closed. Too bad because I’ve read there are some great old mosaics (9-11th century). There is also a large yard with garden but the general feeling is that noone cares for some proper maintenance.
Anyway Agia Sofia was built in late 7th or early 8th century.in the typical for that era style of domed Greek cross basilica following the style of the famous Agia Sofia of Constantinople (in smaller scale of course). It was the cathedral of Thessaloniki from 1205 (when crusaders came) until 1523 (when Maktul Ibrahim Pasha converted it into a mosque for the Ottomans). Most part of its interior destroyed during a fire in 1890 (Wikipedia gives wrong date). It became a church again only in 1912 when Thessaloniki was liberated. The earthquake of 1978 caused new damages but it was restored.
In the south part is the Catacomb of Agios Ioannis, an old Roman Bath dedicated to the Nymphs that later turned into a fountain. It was probably the baptistery of the old church and was part of arcades and buildings of that old church.
The Hagia Sophia (Greek: Ἁγία Σοφία, Holy Wisdom) in Thessaloniki, Greece, 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 in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey). In 1205, when the Fourth Crusade captured the city, the Hagia Sophia was converted into the cathedral of Thessaloniki, which it remained after the city was returned to the Byzantine Empire in 1246. After the capture of Thessaloniki by the Ottoman Sultan Murad II on 29 March 1430, the church was converted into a mosque.
Its ground plan is that of a domed Greek cross basilica. Together with the Gül and the Kalenderhane Mosques in Istanbul and the destroyed Church of the Dormition in Nicaea, it represents one of the main architectural examples of this type, typical of the Byzantine middle period.
Interior of Hagia Sophia, here shown prepared for a wedding.
In the Iconoclastic era, the apse of the church was embellished with plain gold mosaics with only one great cross, similarly to the Hagia Irene in Constantinople and the Church of the Dormition in Nicaea. The cross was substituted with the image of the Theotokos (God-bearer, or Mary) in 787-797 after the victory of the Iconodules. The mosaic in the dome now represents the Ascension of Jesus Christ with the inscription from Acts 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 and two angels.
Agias Sofias is an imposing church - there's no doubt about that. The building itself seems massive, although it is obviously smaller than another church in Thessaloniki, Agiou Demitriou (Greece's largest). Agias Sofias was built in the 8th century and was meant to emulate the church of the same name in Constantinople/Istanbul. Like its namesake, it was converted into a mosque until 1912, when it again became a church. The dome has a spectacular painting of Christ on the interior.
Aghia Sofía, at the east end of Hermes Street in Salonica is an important Christian Church. This three-aisled domed cruciform church on an almost exactly square plan dates from the eighth century. In the ninth and 10th centuries, after the end of the iconoclastic conflict, it was decorated with new figural mosaics, including the Mother of God in the apse (replacing the earlier Cross) and a magnificent representation of the Ascension in the dome. Also notable are the capitals of the columns, which are believed to have come from a fifth century building. From 1204 to 1430 the church of Ayía Sofía was the town's metropolitan church or cathedral (now the Mitrópolis, to the south, in the street of that name). During the Turkish occupation it became a mosque, the Aya Sofya Camii. It was restored after a fire in 1890 and survived the great fire of 1917 unscathed. A graceful Turkish porch was destroyed in an Italian air raid in 1941, and the church was badly damaged in the 1978 earthquake.
Aghia Sofia is a beautiful church unfortunately surrounded with new buildings and you cant feel the beauty of the Church.The model is the Aghia Sophia in Sultanahmet Turkiye
The mosaics inside the church are wonderful
The church was dedicated to Christ and was built in 325, when at the 1st Ecumenical Council of Nicaea Christ was acknowledged as the 'Word and Wisdom of God'.
It's famous for its mosaics in the dome, the same age as the church.
I don't know the full significance of its importance, but just about everyone says, "This is our second most important church..." I believe it has something to do with a patron saint. It's a good stop for a stroll through the city.
As of yet, I haven't been inside, but I'm told it's impressive. I'll note it here if I wander in at some point.
Aghia Sofia is a beautiful Christian church which was built in the 8th century, modeled on the magnificent church of Aghia Sofia in Istanbul. The church contains superb mosaics and wall paintings including a wonderful mosaic of The Ascension.
this church is one of the four 'aja sofia' churces i've seen in about 4 months - one was in macedonia, one in bulgaria, and after this one i've seen the original one in istanbul:)
This byzantine church was the old cathedral. When the Turks conquered Thessaloniki, they made it a mosque. After the liberation of Thessaloniki (1st Balkan War) it became a church again.