Sofronios Basilica

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To See and History

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    Sofronios Basilica – 1600 years of history. With Halkidiki having such a rich history of Christianity that stretches back to the 1st century, there is so much to see that a short vacation won’t satisfy the history buffs.

    The Mount Athos cruises give you spectacular views of 5th century living monasteries. Then there are the ancient Greek sites such as the sanctuary of Zeus Ammon on the Kassandra peninsula. So why should anybody give attention to this quiet, out of the way mosaic floor of the Sofronios Basilica in Nikiti? Well read further…

    History of Sofronios Basilica

    If you are in Nikiti for a beach vacation, it is worth just stopping by to see the local history. The Basilica dates to the beginning of the 5th century AD and one of the oldest in the region since the ruins of most Macedonian churches are from the send half of the 5th century. There is not much known about its history since it wasn’t in use for very long. It is estimated that it was destroyed in the 6th century.

    The size of church of almost 50 meters long gives testimony that at that time Christianity was the predominant religion of the local people. By the 5th century, Christianity had already been the the official religion of the Roman empire for about 100 years after Constantine declared it legal.

    Excavation of the Basilica in the 1980’s uncovered an inscription with the name Sofronios. Hence the name was given – Sofronios Basilica. Possibly he was a local bishop from that time.

    From Behind the Fence

    Today the site is under restoration. When you go, you will not be able to access the site since it is surrounded by a perimeter fence. But you will be able to get close enough to see the mosaic floor and the remaining marble columns that used to support the roof. Even though you can’t enter, you can still get some good photos of this masterpiece.

    The Opus sectile (mosaic work of pieces of stone carefully placed to form a pattern), which is typical in Byzantine churches, is clearly visible. You can see two deer facing a fountain drinking from the “source of life” which is a reference to the 42 Psalm in the Bible. This symbolizes the washing away of sins by means of the baptismal water and was commonly found in churches and basilicas from the early period.

    Such an elaborate mosaic also gives testimony to the wealth of the people in the region.

    Modern Church

    The church located a few meters up the road from the Basilica is the church that was built long after the destruction of the Basilica.

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