Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thessaloniki - Beroea - Meteora

Thessaloniki - St. Demetri

HERE are the pics for this day.
We started out this day with a tour of Thessaloniki. We stopped first at the excavations of the Agora. I'm not sure why (maybe it was still being excavated?), but we didn't see this in 2004. There isn't too much to see, but Thessaloniki has been built over so much, it's really hard to get to the Roman level without destroying much of the city. We did note where a subway track is being built, and it looked like they came across the old Via Egnatia and were working around it. From the Agora, we walked to St. Demetri's Basilica. This is an old church which dates its history back to the martyr Demetrius in the 4th century. The building and interior are rather a mixed bag since it has been destroyed or burnt and rebuilt so many times. I found the crypt under the altar area to be the most interesting, and you'll note that 11 of the 28 pics I pulled for this day are from there. Our guide said that this had formerly been the 'locker room' of the stadium which was just to the north, and that it was here, according to tradition, that Demetrius had been killed. Be sure to take the time to go down there if you visit the basilica.
From there we went up to the Byzantine walls in the upper part of the city near the Round Tower with its wonderful view of the city below and across the harbor to Mt. Athos. Driving past the White Tower, we continued west basically following the Via Egnatia and Paul's route. (Acts 17.10-15) We stopped at Beroea (or Berea, modern Veria) where some of the ancient road is still visible alongside the modern one. Not much to see, but there is a monument and mosaic commemoration of Paul near where an ancient synagogue used to be.
(If we ever come by here again, apparently it is well worth the time to visit Vergina and the tomb of Philip II about 15 miles away.)
The rest of the day was spent driving to Kalambaka at the foot of the Meteora complex. 
Enjoy the pics!

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