Arch of Gallerius

our own understanding of history

8:18 AM

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rotunda • thessaloniki • greece

"The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history."

I am walking in the center of Thessaloniki for many years as a student firstly and afterwards as an inhabitant and I am always impressed by its monuments no matter how many times I pass by them. They always give a distinctive flair to my memories. Waiting beside the Arch of Gallerius (Kamara) in Egnatia Street my good friends from university for the last meet before the summer vacation, for example. The everyday life and its incidents somehow have a different gravity, when they happen near these imposing monuments. But, I never really thought them as a whole. 

This Saturday we were near Rotonda and our little son wanted to walk and run in its yard. So, we visited it after a long time (note that the admission is free anyway). And, when we came back and I started dusting up historic texts and books, in order to write a few words with my photos, I came upon an information that I never thought. 

When we talk in Thessaloniki about Gallerian Symplex, the most of us think the few remains that are saved in Dimitriou Gounari Street (Plateia Navarinou) from the palace of Gallerius and the ancient hippodrome. But, in fact, the Arch of Gallerius (Kamara as we call it in Thessaloniki) and the Rotonda (or Rotunda), which later in Byzantine times was transformed to the church of Ayios Georgios, are all elements of a whole architecture symplex around the palace of Gallerius. Rotonda was built in 309 AD to be used either as a mausoleum of Gallerius or as a temple of Zeus. Unfortunately, this connection is not obvious not only for the tourists that visit the monuments, but also for the locals who live around. And, it is a little sad, because when you think all these monuments as a whole, your understanding of the history is enriched and changes to the better.

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