The Rotonda, the triumphal arch and the palace of Galerius
It was another great Greek day so we decided to continue our search for the monuments in Thessaloniki. Today the three buildings of Galerius had their turn. Galerius was one of the Roman emperors during the years 305 to 311. He especially possessed a lot of power in the eastern part of the empire and used Thessaloniki as the capital.
He is especially known for several of his victories on the Persians, the archenemy of Rome. Even though Galerius had hated Christians almost his entire life, he was also the one who put an end to their persecution in the empire. The three monuments we visited were all made to honor him.
First on the list was the Rotonda. The Rotonda is a gigantic circular building with a diameter of 25 meters and walls of 6 meters thick. The Rotonda was originally made as a mausoleum for Galerius, but was turned into a church later and, during the Ottoman occupation, even into a mosque. Until today this is still visible through the large minaret that was built later on.
When you step into the building, your eyes are immediately drawn upwards. On Rotonda’s ceiling, beautiful mosaic images can be seen in a striking good condition. This is therefore the highlight of the church, which is also called Agios Giorgos. At one side of the church hangs the Jesus statue and in the corner there is a pile of chairs. This immediately makes clear that this church is still in use. A ticket will only cost you one euro.
The triumphal arch
We left the church and walked through the long street that connects these three buildings. From the Rotonda you can almost immediately see a large arch, the triumphal arch of Galerius. Originally there were three arches, but only the middle one has endured time. Nowadays the triumphal arch is located on a busy square in the middle of Thessaloniki. Upon arrival, a man was happily making music on his trumpet and hundreds of pigeons flew around the arch.
On the triumphal arch itself several stone reliefs about Galerius’ life are depicted. A war scene with elephants, an image of Galerius and his father-in-law and an image in which he is addressing his soldiers. The most special thing about this monument is that you actually look at a historical museum while the bustle of the city around you continues.
The palace of Galerius
In the past, the triumphal arch was connected to the Galerius palace and that was our last destination. The remains of the palace of Galerius are also located in the middle of the city. Around you there is a busy shopping street while you yourself walk free of charge over wooden paths alongside the crumbled walls pillars and arches of the building. For example, you will pass by the former bathhouse of Galerius, while you can see on special drawings what these rooms looked like in their glory times. We had the entire site (except for a few stray cats) for ourselves.
The three monuments are located close together in the middle of the center. Each of the monuments is impressive in their own completely different way. The monuments of Galerius certainly belong to the highlights of Thessaloniki. Interested to find out more about the legacy of emperor Galerius? Then take a look at this website.