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The Church of Saint Dimitrios

The Cathedral of Saint Dimitrios is in the center of the old city of Thessaloniki – just to the Northeast of the Ancient Market – on the street Saint Dimitriou. There is a crypt under the altar. Originally, this was a small church, built by the Christians of Thessaloniki (on the ruins of a Roman bath), in order to honor their fellow-citizen, the great martyr Saint Dimitrios.This early church was built in 324 AD, the year that Emperor Constantine established Christianity as the official religion of the state. However, it wasn’t until later that the church was transformed into an adoration center of the Saint- crowds of pilgrims came to pray and to be healed from serious diseases with the myrrh which was reported to be coming out of his grave. Among the pilgrims who were healed was the sub-prefect of Illyrikon, Leontios.

Panoramic view of the Church of Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki

The Church of Saint Dimitrios in Thessaloniki

This early church was built in 324 AD, the year that Emperor Constantine established Christianity as the official religion of the state. However, it wasn’t until later that the church was transformed into an adoration center of the Saint- crowds of pilgrims came to pray and to be healed from serious diseases with the myrrh which was reported to be coming out of his grave. Among the pilgrims who were healed was the sub-prefect of Illyrikon, Leontios

Panoramic view of the interior of the Church of Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki

The Church of Saint Dimitrios in Thessaloniki

Because of his gratitude to Saint Dimitrios, Leontios built a new, much larger and more impressive church on the site of the former smaller church in 413 A.C. This church though was burnt twice- in the fires of 626 and 634. Immediately after that, the church was rebuilt by Bishop John. Unfortunately, since then, the temple suffered successive pillaging, as it was occupied first by the Sarakin Arabs (904), then by the Normans (1185), and finally by the Turks during the conquest of Thessaloniki in the 1430’s. In 1493 it was transformed into a Muslim Mosque (tzami) with the name “Kasimie tzami”, and it remained so until the liberation of the city in 1912. The big fire of 1917 almost completely destroyed the cathedral and it was restored in 1949. Saint Dimitrios was given to the pilgrims on the 26th October, which is nameday of the Saint. This is a significant day in Thessaloniki- thecity was liberated from the Turks in 1912 on this date, and Saint Dimitrios is the patron Saint of the city.

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