Panagia Acheiropoietos

Department Archive
Collection Byzantine Research Fund
Reference No. BRF/01/01/07/019
Level Item
Place Panagia Acheiropoietos
Dates 1888-1890
Donor/Creator Weir Schultz, Mr Robert
Barnsley, Mr Sidney Howard
Scope and Content Three soffit mosaics with inscriptions. This is a preliminary drawing. It is labelled: 'Soffit Mosaics - 11/2 Scale'. Further annotation in pencil survives. W.S. George also worked on these drawings (1907-1909).
Further information Acheiropoietos church in Thessalonike is a typical example of a three-aisled wooden-roofed basilica with galleries and a narthex. An impressive tribelon (triple arch) with columns of green Thessalian marble leads from the narthex to the nave. Remnants on the west end and the monumental propylon in the middle of the south wall indicate the existence of an outer narthex or, more likely, of an atrium with open portico.

The galleries were accessed through ruined now ramps/staircases at the outer north-west corner of the building. The annex at the east end of the north aisle functioned in the middle Byzantine period as a chapel dedicated to Hagia Irene. The large semicircular apse of the sanctuary with the stepped synthronon and the pulpit (ambo) dominate the interior east end of the church. Equally impressive are the lavish marble revetment of the aisle-walls, the splendid mosaics which covered the apse and the soffits of the ground-floor arcades both in the nave and the narthex, the masterfully executed ‘Theodosian’ type capitals of the ground floor as well as the Ionic capitals of the colonnades in the gallery zone.

The church floor was covered with large slabs of Prokonessian marble. Only those in the main aisle survive. Very few wall-paintings survive, in poor condition, from the thirteenth-century fresco decoration of the monument.
Acheiropoietos church was built upon the ruins of ancient buildings around the middle of the 5th c. It is dedicated to the Virgin and the epithet Acheiropoietos (not made by hands) was originally referring to the miraculous devotional icon of the Virgin which was kept and venerated in the basilica.