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The World Heritage churches in Thessaloniki (2023)

The World Heritage churches in Thessaloniki (2023)

It was in about 50 AD, just a handful of decades after Jesus is said to have lived, that Paul the Apostle arrived in Thessaloniki.

Back then, the Greek city was part of the Roman Empire and an important trading centre on the roads between modern-day Turkey, Italy, and the Balkans. Its location and significance were among the reasons why Paul chose to come here.

Paul the Apostle (or Saint Paul, as he came to be known) was on his second missionary journey to spread the word of Jesus and try to convert people to the new religion of Christianity.

For three weeks, he went to the main synagogue of Thessaloniki on the Sabbath and preached. Some people believed him and became followers. Some chased him out of town, as others had done in cities across the region.

But in Thessaloniki, just like many other places Saint Paul visited on his missionary journeys, the seeds had been planted. The Greek city would become one of the first centres of Early Christianity, laying the groundwork for the famous churches of Thessaloniki.

Churches in Thessaloniki

When you visit Thessaloniki these days, almost 2000 years after Saint Paul did, you’ll find an incredible collection of Christian churches.

None is from the time of Paul, but some of them are from some of the earliest centuries of the Christian era. Others are from the Byzantine period, while others came a bit later.

Collectively, the Thessaloniki churches are one of the most important things to see in the city, tracing the development of Christianity and the history of the culture here. They have even been inscribed as a World Heritage Site.

Why are the churches of Thessaloniki important?

The churches of Thessaloniki have been named as a World Heritage Site because they cover a long period of Christianity from the 4th to 15th centuries, including masterpieces of Christian art and architectural styles that influenced religious design across the region.

What is the most famous church in Thessaloniki?

The most famous church in Thessaloniki is the Agia Sophia (Church of St Sophia), which was built in the 8th century and is a masterpiece of Byzantine design. The other most significant is the Church of St Demetrios, named for the city’s patron saint who was killed on this spot in 303 AD.

Where did St Paul preach in Thessaloniki?

On his first journey to Thessaloniki, St Paul is said to have preached in the city’s main synagogue. It’s not known exactly where he preached when he returned in 56 AD, but the Vlatades Monastery is on the spot…

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