Vasiliki of Saphronios


The temple came to light with excavations that began in 1981,  a few meters west of today’s chapel of Sant George near the beach of Nikiti. The church dates back to the first half of the 5th century AD and is one of the oldest early Christian churches that have been found in the region of Macedonia. It is a three-aisled basilica with a wooden roof with a total length of 48m. An inscription found during the excavation refers to the name “Sophronios” as a bishop of the time. Thus the temple was named “the basilica of Sophronios”.

Among the most important finds in the temple are the specially styled marble statues (opussectile). Marble is a technique of image representation developed in ancient Rome and spread across the empire. Unlike the mosaic where small, similar size pieces make up an image, the marble pieces used in the marble are larger and usually shaped appropriately prior to placement. Other important finds in the temple are the mosaic floor decoration, fresco remains and sculptures. The mosaic represents two deer, a male and a female approaching to drink water from a vase.

The exceptional decoration of the temple and the findings in the adjoining cemetery, where two vaulted tombs were found, suggest that there were important people in the area who could make money for the construction of the temple.

The evidence we have shows that the temple was destroyed by a fire in the 6th century AD. On the other hand, the archaeological finds in the wider area of ​​the settlement seem to be no later than the 6th century AD. At about the same time a neighboring settlement in the area of ​​Elia must be destroyed. Thus, one can conclude that the settlement as well as the temple was destroyed by barbaric raids that were common at that time in the area of ​​Chalkidiki and Macedonia in general. Another theory claims that the temple was destroyed by an earthquake.