Going back to the late 3rd century A.D., after a number of long devastating wars, the romans decided to divide the Empire into 4 regions, each with its own provinces , thus leading to the creation of a new form of leadership, the Tetrarchy.
The administrative needs of the Tetrarchy led Galerius to the construction of the Imperial complex in Thessaloniki because of its importance as one of the capitals, after he came into power being one of the 4 rulers.
Galerius Arch (kamara) and Rotunda were basic elements of the palatial complex. Original intensions were predicting its use as a mausoleum, although many archaeologists believe it was initially used as a roman temple. The dimensions of the main structure are quite impressive.
Unique mosaics and Roman architecture
A central dome (30m high) crowns the structure while the original design was implementing an “Occulus” similar to the one in Pantheon, Rome. A beautifully decorated street, filled with columns was connecting this important cylindrical building to the triumphal Arch in the south. It was turned into a Christian temple around 400 A.D., while decorated at the same time with some wonderful paleo-christian mosaics depicting saints and martyrs.
The unusually thick walls of the building reveal the reason rotunda survived a number of devastating earthquakes throughout the centuries. Despite being a Christian temple for 1200 years, it was converted into a mosque in 1590 A.D., during the Ottoman occupation period.
Today several discussions are being held regarding its use as a museum, or a church. In December 18, 2015 Rotonda reopened its doors to the public after extended restoration and preservation work, so nowdays everyone will have the chance to enjoy the monument and get a glimpse of its old glory!