Kamara

Overview

Era: 
Roman
Type: 
Archaeological Sites
Culture: 
Classical monument
Century: 
3rd century
Latitude: 
40.632014
Longitude: 
22.951871

The well known Kamara, one of Thessaloniki’s most famous monuments, constitutes a characteristic meeting spot for city’s inhabitants and visitors, situated at the junction of Egnatia and Dimitriou Gounari Street. Kamara is a triumphal arch, built by the end of the 3rd century or the early 4th, in honor of Caesar Galerius, one of the four princes of the vast Roman Empire and more specifically the local governor of the Balkan Peninsula, who decided to settle in Thessaloniki in 299, defining it also as the capital city of his Province.

In its initial form, Kamara was a covered construction, with a quadrate floor plan, consisted of two parallel walls (almost 37m. long and 3.80 m. thick) with a distance of around 9m. between them. Each wall disposed three arched openings: a large one in the center (of 9.7m. width and 12.5 m. height) and two smaller ones on its sides (of 4.85 m. width and 6.5m. height). Consequently, four columns were formed in each wall, two main columns in the center of the construction and two secondary ones on its sides. During antiquity, Kamara was not an autonomous construction but constituted only a part of the huge Galerius’ palatial complex that used to cover the south eastern part of the Roman city; it was also situated at the crossroad of the two basic street lines, architecturally designed with galleries and column lines: firstly, the Via Regia, which crossed Thessaloniki horizontally, constituting one of the city’s greatest and most important streets; secondly, a processional way, situated on the vertical axe, unifying the royal residence with the Rotonda, serving the needs of formal and other celebration occasions.

Nowadays, only some parts of it still remain in good condition: the eastern side is missing completely from the two parallel walls; on its western side, only two out of the three arched openings (the central and the northern on its side) as well as three out of the four columns (the two main columns and the northern one out of the secondary ones). On the surface of these two main columns that have survived, we can find marble plates with carved illustrations, depicting scenes from the glorious and victorious Galerius expedition in Anatolia versus the Persians in 297. These scenes are being developed in successive zones, characterized by the number and the density of the episodes and the images represented, while constituting in the same time characteristic art samples of the post antiquity era.