Church of Panaghia Chalkeon (Our Lady of the coppersmiths)
Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki, Greece
Founded in 315 B.C., the provincial capital and sea port of Thessaloniki was one of the first bases for the spread of Christianity. Among its Christian monuments are fine churches, some built on the Greek cross plan and others on the three-nave basilica plan. Constructed over a long period, from the 4th to the 15th century, they constitute a diachronic typological series, which had considerable influence in the Byzantine world. For that reason, the Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki have been inscribed in 1988 in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The church of Panagia Chalkeon (our Lady of the Coppersmiths) was built in 1028 by the protospatharios (Byzantine official) Christophoros, as is attested by the inscription on the marble lintel of the main west entrance. After the conquest of Thessaloniki by the Turks, in 1430, it was converted into a mosque and again became a Christian church, with the liberation of the city, in 1912.
Longitudinal church of the cross-in-square type, with a square naos, a narthex on the west side and a triconch sanctuary on the east. Four columns and four arches form a cross inscribed in the square area of the naos. The centre of the cross is covered by an eight-sided dome and smaller domes cover the two ends of the narthex. Two successive layers of wall paintings are distinguished in the church, dated to the 11th and the 14th century A.D., respectively.
After the liberation of the city, the wall paintings of the church were cleaned from the turkish plaster that covered them. The building was damaged by the earthquake in 1932 and was subsequently restored; the narthex and the south pediment were then reconstructed. Similar work was also undertaken after the earthquake of 1978.
The monument is now used as a church.