The Palace of Galerius
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Under the rule of the Roman empire, Thessaloniki was ruled by a construct erected by emperor Galerius. Its remnants remain visible in the metropolis presently. The Palace of Galerius was the most remarkable building.


Galerius, having defeated the persians in battle, opted for Thessaloniki to be the capital of the eastern part of the Roman empire. He had a grand ambition: to make Thessaloniki the seat of administration in the east of the Roman empire. The building of a great complex was initiated. At the beginning of the 4th century, it came to represent the grandeur of its ruler, and consisted of not just a palace. Nowadays, the remains of the buildings form the «Galerian Complex» with a Rotunda, a Triumphal Arch, a Hippodrome, and parts of what used to be a magnificent palace.

In 1917, the first excavations of the Palace of Galerius started. Subsequently, in 1935, german archaeologists began their work too, but they wrongly determined the position of the palace. Only a few years later, the exact location was found. Greek archaeologists, who excavated in the 1950s and 1970s, proved the assumptions made. Thereafter, the city authorities requested to clear the area and commence permanent research of the Palace of Galerius. Intermittently, excavations were held from 1993 to 2014.

The Palace of Galerius, located in the centre of Thessaloniki, is renowned as the most preserved imperial house from late antiquity in Europe. In 2008, it was given a high european honour in recognition of its successful restoration of antiquated ruins and their alteration into a cultural venue.

Structure of the Palace

Through long excavation works, archaeologists were able to re-establish the design of the Palace, consisting of 11 chambers and a courtyard with a fountain. Connecting the Palace to other structures, the doors of the chambers were the gateway. It also had thermal baths equipped with various rooms for bathing in varying temperatures. The walls and floors of the baths were embellished with mosaics, artwork and marble cladding, making it a place for socializing.

One of the most resplendent edifices was deemed to be the Octagon — a chamber with eight faces, an arch and an internal court. Its walls were adorned with white and pigmented tiles generated from egyptian and grecian marble. The palace had an Apsidal hall affiliated with a peristyle to the basilica. The entire area of the palace reached 150000 m2.

What to see

What to experience the archaeological district is split into multiple zones. Those remain intact to the present day.

The Galeria Chambers (Central complex) flaunts mosaic floors, which boast various decorations and patterns.

Although its exact size is yet to be uncovered, some parts of it are found beneath the homes. This public bath was among the most opulent of the palace. On the grounds, you can come across Thermal baths which offer cold, warm, and hot water, plus vaulted cisterns. Elements of mosaics, floor marble slabs, and an honorary inscription addressed to the renowned consul Silvan Nikolaos ii remain from the decorations.

In the 1950s to 1981s, archaeologists unearthed an Octagonal structure that was not fully researched. A violent earthquake in the 7th century resulted in the destruction of the octagonal hall. Subsequent rebuilding saw the Octagon repurposed into a cistern until the 14th century. Remnants of marble slabs, mosaic designs, and wall paintings remain in the octagon to this day.

At the dig site, fragments of marble from various components of construction can be found. These elements include pedestals, tops, doorways, cornices, window frames, veneer, and pilasters. There is an Apsidal hall, constituted by two chambers utilized for rituals and feasts. Both were magnificently ornamented. Traces of mosaics and pieces of the marble floor have been recovered.

The ruins of the basilica encompass its hall and the base of one of the walls. The rest is concealed underneath the pedestrian road. The mosaic flooring of the basilica is in very good condition.

The Palace of Galerius is positioned near Navarino square. To get there, public transportation isn’t necessary: the palace is a 7–10 minute walk from the White Tower and the embankment, or a 10–15 minute stroll from Aristotle Square.


Head off to the Palace of Galerius and make the most of your visit! You can explore the Rotunda, then take a stroll to the impressive Arches of Galerius, Agia Sofia and the Music museum of Macedonia. After that, you can find a spot to grab a bite to eat, get a coffee, shop around — all the activities you would expect to find in the heart of a bustling city.