March 6, 2014

1024-1025 GREECE (Central Macedonia) - Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki (UNESCO WHS)

Founded around 315 BC by the King Cassander of Macedon (son of Antipater, one of the great generals of Philip II and Alexander the Great), on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma and 26 other villages, and named after his wife, a half-sister of Alexander the Great, Thessaloniki (from Thessalos - Thessalian, and nike - victory) evolved to become the most important city in Macedon, then an flourishing free city of the Roman Republic, and finally the co-reigning city of the Byzantine Empire, alongside Constantinople. Due to its importance during the early Christian period, but also later, the city is host to several monuments, constructed from the 4th to the 15th century, which constitute a diachronic typological series, with considerable influence in the Byzantine world. In 1988, 15 of these monuments of Thessaloniki were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


The Rotunda of Galerius (in the first postcard), also known as the Greek Orthodox Church of Agios Georgios, is a cylindrical structure with a diameter of 24.5m, built in 306 AD on the orders of the tetrarch Galerius, and intended to be his mausoleum. Its walls are more than 6m thick, which is why it has withstood Thessaloniki's earthquakes. A flat brick dome, 30m high at the peak, which in its original design had an oculus (a circular opening in the centre), crowns the structure. The Emperor Constantine I converted the building in church in the 4th century, adorning it with very high quality mosaics, from which fragments have survived till today. In 1590 it was converted into mosque by the conquerors Ottomans, but in 1912 was reconsecrated as church.

The Church of Saint Demetrius (in the second postcard), is the main sanctuary dedicated to the patron saint of Thessaloniki, a five-aisled basilica built between 629 and 634 on the site of other churches. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave, made of or covered with silver. The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Iconoclastic policies in 730. Following the Great Fire of 1917 it took decades to restore the church. The excavations uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. Was also discovered a well, where it seems that the soldiers dropped the saint's body, after his execution.

About the stamps
On the first postcard 

The stamp is part of the series Personalities, issued on September 16, 2013:
• Andrew N. Liveris (0.05 EUR) - it's on other postcard
• Aristides Patrinos (0.10 EUR)
• Jim Giannopoulos (0.20 EUR)
• Stavros Niarchos (0.72 EUR)
• Vangelis (0.80 EUR) - it's on the postcard
• Nikos Aliagas (3.00 EUR)

On the second postcard
The stamp is part of the series The 100th Anniversary of the First Ascent of Mount Olympus, issued on July 19, 2013:
• 0.05 EUR
• 0.10 EUR
• 0.78 EUR (A) - it's on the postcard
• 3.50 EUR

Thessaloniki - Wikipedia
Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki - Wikipedia
Arch of Galerius and Rotunda - Wikipedia
Hagios Demetrios - Wikipedia
Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki - UNESCO official website

sender 1, 2: Vangelis Pavlopoulos (direct swap)
sent from Thessaloniki (Macedonia / Greece), on 29.01.2014

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