The Rotunda (Agios Georgios)
The Church of St. George (Agios Georgios), the Galerius’ Tomb (Tafos tou Galeriou) or simply The Rotunda – all those names refer to the edifice that was constructed in Thessaloniki in 306 BC at the behest of one of Galerius’ tetrarchs. it was originally intended as a Roman temple or the tetrarch’s mausoleum which gave it one if its names. It is situated in Thessaloniki city centre at the northern end of the axis connecting the Galerius Palace with the Galerius Arch. It has 24.5 m in perimeter and its walls are more than 6 m wide. On the top of the 30 m high dome, there is an oculus, i.e. the only place through which light penetrated into the building (in the same way like in case of Pantheon in Rome).
After Galerius’ deatch, the Rotunda remained unutilized, then in the 4th century, the emperor Constantine I transformed it into a Christian church. The mosaic ornamentation comes from this era, of which the remains have been preserved till nowadays. In 1590, the time when Thessaloniki was controlled by Ottoman Turks, the Rotunda (like many other Thessaloniki churches) was transformed into a mosque. The interesting thing is that while other churches-mosques were reconsecrated and their minarets were demolished after 1912 when Thessaloniki was regained by the Greeks, the Rotunda was consecrated again as a church but the minaret on the building was preserved.
The Rotunda is one if the oldest Thessaloniki churches (in some travel guides, it is even referred to as the oldest one) and it is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Video of the Rotunda