National Geographic : 1916 Sep
Photograph by H. G . Dwight THEI WHITE TOWER, BUILT BY SULEIMAN THE MAGNIFICENT (SEE PAGE 211) homonym in Constantinople, it is a domed basilica, and it was long considered to be a provincial copy of that great original. As a matter of fact, the Saloniki church is the original, having been built a hun dred years or more the earlier, at the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century (see picture, page 218). For the student of Byzantine archi tecture, therefore, it has a place of its own, as being a tentative solution of problems which Justinian's cathedral was so triumphantly to surmount. The church has suffered disastrously by fire, earthquake, and restoration. But the original lines of the structure remain, the pillars and beautiful capitals of wind-blown acanthus, and two fine fragments of mosaic. In the vault of the bema is a gold cross inscribed in a circle, on a rich blue-green ground, while the golden semi-dome of the apse contains a seated Virgin and child-of the eighth century. The principal mosaic, an As cension, with decorative green trees be tween the standing figures, lines the great dome. It is supposed to date from 645, though the figure of Christ in the center is older still. SOME TURKS TOLERANT I first saw these interesting mosaics while Saloniki was still a Turkish town. And it struck me as confirming in the Saloniki Turk, leader in the movement of his country toward western civilization, a tolerance less characteristic of his Asi atic brother-that decorations contraven ing every canon of orthodox Moham medanism should remain to offend the eyes of the faithful. There are more mosaics to be seen in the larger St. Sophia of Constantinople, but none of them represent human forms or orna ment the central parts of the structure. This impression, repeated in St. George, was strengthened by the Cathe dral of St. Demetrius. That five-aisled basilica, dating from the beginning of the fifth century, although restored and en larged in the seventh, is the largest and best preserved of the Saloniki churches, as well as one of the finest structures of its type in existence.