Sunday, September 03, 2006

Divine Liturgy at the Rotunda

We did make it to the Rotunda (St. George's) for Divine Liturgy this morning. It was amazing. This is a photo I took as we walked up to the church from the bus stop. The Arch of Galerius is on the left. The Rotunda was built around 297, originally as a mausoleum for Emperor Galerius (after he died, of course). It turns out he was not buried there, after all, and with the triumph of Christianity only a few years later, the building was used instead as a church.

Today, you can see only faded pieces of the original iconography, including parts of the Pantocrator on the ceiling and a fairly well preserved Ascension scene in the apse above the sanctuary. (It's quite interesting to note how prevalent the image of the Ascension was in the early churches here. It seems to be depicted either in the dome or in the apse above the sanctuary in almost every church.) Otherwise, the inside looks VERY archaic, with scaffolding erected against the walls for future restoration work.

The bottom photo here is of the entrance. Below the icon of St. George, there is an inscription in Turkish, from the building's days as a mosque (as you can see from the top photo, the minaret is still standing -- the only one I've seen in the city).

Our friend Philip happened to come to Liturgy here as well today, and afterwards we had some coffee and a bite to eat with him at an outdoor cafe right next to the Arch of Galerius. Then we all walked just a few blocks down Egnatia (the ancient Via Egnatia, the Roman road) and went to the Mt. Athos exhibit, featuring items from the Protaton (the central church of the Holy Mountain, located in the administrative capital of Karyes). Unfortunately, no photography was allowed.

Anyway, tomorrow morning I'm off to Mt. Athos until Wednesday evening. Photography is allowed there, I hear, at least in certain sections, so I will post some photos upon my return (God willing). Check back Thursday!

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