Hagios Georgios (Rotunda)

Department Archive
Collection Byzantine Research Fund
Reference No. BRF/01/01/07/202
Level Item
Place Hagios Georgios (Rotunda)
Thessalonike
Dates 1907?
Creator George, Mr Walter Sykes
Scope and Content Mosaic (detail). This is a preliminary drawing. It is initialed (W.S.G.) in pencil in the lower right-hand corner. Further annotation in pencil survives.
Further information The church of Hagios Georgios, the so-called Rotunda, is one of the earliest and most impressive buildings of Thessalonike. Originally built to serve as the mausoleum of Galerius, one of Diocletian’s Ceasars, it was converted into a church with the addition of an apse (holy bema) to the east, a narthex to the west and a propylon to the south in the late 4th c. It was dedictated to the Archangels- the name Hagios Georgios (St George) actually refers to the small chapel just opposite the west entrance of the courtyard. Rotunda is a circular building covered by a semi-circular octagonal vault. Buildings of this type usually served as martyria, mausolea and baptisteries.

The walling consists of parallel brick-courses and rubble masonry. Two buttresses which were added to the building in the 10th c., support the exterior walls of the holy bema. The narthex and the propylon do not survive. The lower surfaces of the interior walls are covered with marble revetments, mosaics decorate the dome, the vaults, and the lunettes. Tiny traces of a wall-painting depicting the Ascension still survive in the apse of the sanctuary. The marble base of the masterfully executed fifth-century pulpit (ambo) of the church survives nowadays next to the south propylon- the upper parts of the ambo are kept at the Museum of Istanbul. In 1591 the monument was converted into a mosque.