Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Church of the Acheiropoietos

Church of the Acheiropoietos (Thessaloniki) by Joy of Museums

Church of the Acheiropoietos

The Church of the Acheiropoietos is a Byzantine church dated from its bricks and mosaics to ca. 450–470, making it one of the earliest of the Thessaloniki’s surviving churches, although it was modified in the 7th and again in the 14th–15th centuries. The building is a three-aisled basilica, some 28 m wide and 36.5 m long, with a wooden roof. The three aisles are separated by columns, while the two side aisles have galleries above them.

The current entrance is through a triple-arched opening that connects the narthex with the main nave. The surviving parts of the church’s original interior decoration include 5th-century Ionian capitals, the green Thessalian marble columns, the original Proconnesian marble pavement of the central nave, and fragments of 5th-century decorative mosaics. Early 13th-century frescoes depicting the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste adorn the southern side. Underneath the north aisle’s current pavement, floor mosaics from an earlier Roman-era bath have been uncovered.

After Ottoman conquest of the city in 1430, the Acheiropoietos was converted into a mosque, by Sultan Murad II. Throughout the Ottoman period, it remained the city’s principal mosque under the name Eski Camii (“Old Mosque”).

Did you know?

  1. An inscription by Sultan Murad II survives in the northern colonnade, on the eighth column from the east.
  2. Byzantine sources state that the cult of the city’s patron saint, St. Demetrius, was practised there.
  3. The name Church of the Acheiropoietos is presumably after a miraculous acheiropoietos (“not made by hands”) icon of Panagia Hodegetria that was housed in the church.

Church of the Acheiropoietos – Photo Gallery

Church of the Acheiropoietos


“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
– John the Baptist


Photo Credit: JOM