Latomou Monastery

Overview

Era: 
Byzantine
Type: 
Churches
Culture: 
Christian monument
Century: 
5th century
Latitude: 
40.642366
Longitude: 
22.951324

History- Name origin: Latomou Monastery (also known as Monastery of Osios David) is located in Ano Poli of Thessaloniki, in the south west of Vlatadon Monastery. Concerning the historical background of the church, though it has not survived until nowadays in its first form, we can find certain pieces of information in a 9th century text (VII “Naration” of Ignatius). The church, former catholicon, is estimated to have been built by the 5th century over roman remnants and was decorated after a donation made by an anonymous woman. It was initially dedicated to Prophet Zacharias. During the Iconoclastic period, the mosaic decoration of the nich had been covered by cow skin and mortar in order to be protected and it was afterwards revealed as a result of an earthquake in the years of the Emperor Leon the Armenian (813-820 A.D). In honour of this event, the Church had been dedicated to Jesus Christ the Savior of Latomou or of the Quarries (from the quarries that were said to exist in the area). During the 12th century the catholicon had been renovated and decorated with murals that were restored by the end of the 13th- early 14th century. Its transformation into a Muslim mosque, known as Suluca or Murat or Kerementim, possibly in the 16th century, contributed in covering once again the wall decoration with mortar. Ιn 1921, it was finally returned to the Orthodox community for worship purposes and was dedicated to Osios David. It was then that its complete decoration was revealed.
Architecture: In its initial form, the temple used to be a square building with a semi circular arch on its eastern side and an entrance in its western. In the interior of this square building, we can find a cross and four corner rooms that make it belong to the architectural type of cruciform basilica. Its central area used to be covered by a dome. Nowadays, the whole western part of the temple is missing implicating that the temple had been destructed before its transformation into a mosque since the minaret’s base has been found in the north western corner room area. As a consequence of these series of destructions and transformations, the roof has undergone changes and the entrance has been transferred in the southern part of the temple.
Wall decoration: The mosaics and the rest of the temple’s wall decoration enclose pieces of art that marked the history as well as the evolution of byzantine art. We can identify three phases concerning the temple’s decoration. The mosaic that decorates the fourth circle of the Holy Altar’s nich dates back to the last quarter of the 5th century and depicts the Epiphania. In the center of this composition the figure of young Jesus Christ dominates the scene, surrounded by the symbols of the four Evangelists. Underneath Jesus feet lies a river (the Jordan or Chovar river). On its left and right, two aged figures, possibly the Prophets Ezekiel and Avakoum, are martyrs of the glorious presentation of Jesus. We can identify easily on this mosaic its Greco-Roman influences. The murals decorating the southern arch of the temple (Birth, Βaptism, traces of the Presentation of Christ at the Temple as well as His Transfiguration), date back to the third quarter of the 12th century, reflecting elements of the Komninon era art. In the northern part of the cross, remnants of murals of the end of the 13th – early 14th century, have also survived, representing former pieces of the Paleologeian art of Thessaloniki.