National Geographic : 1916 Sep
Photograph by H. G. Dwight THE CHURCH OF ST. GEORGE, KNOWN IN THE TURKISH PERIOD AS THE MOSQUE OE HORTAJI SULEIMAN EFFENDI "Its design, more characteristic of Italy than of the Levant, reminds us that Saloniki was more directly under Italian influence than under that of Constantinople, and that until the eighth century the city was, in religious matters, subject to Rome" (see text, page 215). Although pillaged at the time of the Turkish conquest, it fortunately fell into the hands of the Mevlevi, more popularly known as the Whirling Dervishes, who are among the most tolerant of Moham medans. ALL MEN BROTHERS The dervish who showed me about, on the occasion of my first visit, pointed out that the figures objectionable from a Turkish point of view had merely been covered with a curtain, adding that all men were brothers, and that mosques and churches alike were the houses of God. St. Demetrius, at any rate, still con tains much interesting and beautiful deco rative detail. There are superb verd antique columns on either side of the nave, their early Byzantine capitals are of great variety, and the spandrels of the arches are ornamented with charming de signs of inlaid marble. There is also a good deal of mosaic in the aisles and the bema, the oldest being that of the north wall. It dates from the seventh century, though some of it has been retouched. In spite of its early period the basilica has an oddly baroque air. This is chiefly due to an imitation of a cornice on a flat surface of variegated marble. And in one place the veined marble of the walls, sawn in thin sections from the same block, is so arranged as to simulate drapery. In a dark chamber opening out of the narthex is shown what purports to be the tomb of St. Demetrius himself. But the real shrine was despoiled at the time of the Turkish conquest, and existed in an other part of the cathedral.