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Agia Sofia
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The sacred cathedral of Agia Sophia stands on the homonymous square in the center of Thessaloniki. The specific church along with the church of St. Demetrius and the church of the Acheiropoietos are the most important Christian sites in Northern Greece. The Holy Cathedral of Agia Sofia was registered in 1988 at UNESCO's  world cultural heritage list.

 

History

The sacred cathedral of Agia Sofia was built in the late 7th century on the ruins of an earlier church that was destroyed by an  earthquake. The similarities of the church of Agia Sofia  with the famous  homonym church in Constantinople led many researchers to conclude that the specific churches were built at the same time.

During the Byzantine period the Crusaders conquerors convert the Orthodox church into a Catholic. Forty years after the advent of the Crusaders, Agia Sofia was reclaimed by the Byzantine Empire. In 1523, the Turks invaded in Thessaloniki and they  turned Agia Sofia into a mosque.

In the late 19th century, a fire caused several damages to the building. Along with the liberation of Thessaloniki, the church of Agia Sophia was assigned to the Orthodox Church of Greece.

 

Architecture

From an architectural standpoint,  in the holy church of Agia Sofia are observed transitory architectural elements. Specifically, Agia Sofia is a Basilica with a dome and  a cross-shape central area. The cross-sape hall is ​​a specific feature of newer architectural type that occurs mostly from the 10th century onwards. A minaret was standing  in the northwestern corner of the church and it was built during the conversion of the church into a mosque.

The interior of the church was originally influenced by the period of iconoclasm. Specifically, the arch of the sanctuary and the large gold cross are characterized by wallpainting absence. At the end of the century, the prevalence of wallpainting is reflected in the temple where the mosaic of the Virgin Mary replaces the gold cross. The sculptural decoration of the church phase was implemented on more than one temporal.