"Sotirakis" chapel Thessaloniki – A Byzantine pearl

arts&culture
Art & culture

Even a tiny church in Thessaloniki can be a pearl! One of the smallest (if not the smallest of all) is the “Sotirakis” chapel. “Sotirakis” means little Sotiris.

Even a tiny church in Thessaloniki can be a pearl! One of the smallest (if not the smallest of all) is the “Sotirakis” chapel. “Sotirakis” means little Sotiris. That name derives from the Greek word for Savior (“Soter”). The chapel is currently dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Savior, a feast celebrated on August 6. But originally it was dedicated to the Mother of God. It was a funerary monument, as the archaeologists discovered tombs within and outside the church.

It was built in the mid-14th c., as testified by a coin that was found in the dome. Perhaps in the second half of the same century, the latter was decorated with frescoes of exceptional beauty. They depict the Ascension of the Lord along with personifications of winds (a typical element of classical art and an example that shows how the latter was incorporated into the Byzantine painting), Prophets, as well as scenes from the divine liturgy. These murals need restoration, but they are still very beautiful.

The external part of the dome is also noteworthy and a typical example of late Byzantine domes in Thessaloniki; Brick arches and semi-columns create a beautiful effect. The narthex (western part of the chapel) is a 20th c. addition. However, it doesn’t deceive the eye and gives the impression that it was once an organic part of the authentic Byzantine structure!

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Egnatia 138

Mon - Sat 09:00 - 13:00

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