Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thessaloniki: the Romans do.

Having said goodbye to Maggie's family on Tuesday morning we got a ride back into town with one of her uncles who very kindly dropped us off at the Rotunda, another building which went through various incarnations as a church and mosque over the years. This one was part of the Roman buildings and had the reamins of some mosaics on the central dome and some really beautiful painitings behind the alter but much of it is under restoration so it should be really amazing when finished.

We then found the Turkish consulate so I could visit Ataturk's house which is a much more thorough museum than the one in Istanbul and includes the room where he was born and a library full of books about his life.

We then went to the main shopping street in the middle of which is the enormous Palace of Galerius, an archeological site dating to the same Roman period as the Galerius Arch and Rotunda. There were many mosaic and marble floors and the walls of the baths, bascilica, octagon and main hall to explore while the hippodrome and other sections remain buried beneath the surrounding shops and apartment buildings.

After yet another enormous lunch we found the excellent Byzantine museum which covers all aspects of life, death and religion in the Byzantine period and beyond with many beautiful religious artworks, tomb stones, tools, jewellery, pottery, masonry and coins. Really interesting. They sure know how to do history right in these parts.

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