arch of galerius

Monuments of Thessaloniki / The Arch of Galerius:

The Arch of Galerius, or more widely known as Kamara is another famous monument of Thessaloniki. The arch is aligned with the Rotunda and the Palaces of Galerius. (4th century A.D)

The Arch was built in celebration of the defeat of the Sassanid Persians by the Romans.

Thessaloniki’s Antiquities’ Ephorate has been fighting constantly to keep Thessaloniki’s historical past alive within the city, with most prominent the case of the Roman Forum, which was discovered after the great fire of 1917 underneath the burned remnants of the Jewish quarter. The site had been cleared with the intention to build the new Courthouse. Archaeologists were met with a strong resistance on the city’s part who wanted to build the new Courthouse on top of the Roman Forum. One of the latest such cases was the discovery of a portion of the Byzantine city during the excavations for Thessaloniki’s metro line (2013-2014). Court battles ensued again since the municipality wanted the site removed and stored somewhere outside the city. The archaeologists demanded the site to be characterized as a monument and remain in situ with a museum built around it. Finally a settlement, which has not been wholy accepted has been suggested. The site is to be dismantled and transferred away for the completion of the metro line, and then it will be brought back to be installed as a permanent exhibition. However, that doesn’t really involve a thorough rescue excavation.

This policy has not been without its fallacies since it exposed the monuments to the hard reality of a busy city center. During the ‘80s, a really dark period for Greece, Kamara sustained various damages due to atmospheric pollution and graffiti. Cleaning methods at the time did not help remove the “ghost” of the graffiti after the removal of the first layers of paint. However, the conservation laboratories of the Ephorate developed a pioneering method including the use of a spray on membrane that could be peeled off removing paint and other dirt thoroughly.

Through time, however, the constancy displayed by archaeologists in the preservation of monuments within the everyday lives of modern citizens, has been steadily paying off. More and more young Greeks develop an appreciation for them that is not rooted in naive nationalism.

The bars installed around the monument are meant to protect it from the possibility of a car accident, since the monument is situated right next to the main avenue of the city (Egnatia Odos), and stray dogs that might be tempted to urinate on the monument.

Monuments of Thessaloniki / The Arch of Galerius:

Reliefs from the Arch of Galerius celebrating the victory of the Romans over the Sassanid Persians (4th century A.D)