15 October 2015

Tantalized in Thessaloniki: The Museum of Byzantine Culture

Thessaloniki was the second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire. No wonder there are plenty of Byzantine artifacts in the city, plenty enough to devote a full museum to them. The Museum of Byzantine Culture was perhaps the best museum I have seen in the city, and I definitely learned a lot. Here are some of the pictures.

The museum is relatively new: it just opened in 1994. It is wide and sprawling, and it takes the visitor through a circular route, visiting various aspects of Byzantine culture, from pottery, to art, to marble sculpture, and many others.

Unsurprisingly, religion is the main driving force in cultural development during the Byzantine Period. In fact, all the exhibits that were featured were mostly religious, such as the designs that were developed in the Byzantine church. The pictures shown above illustrate this.

The influence of religion is most seen in art. Most if not all of the subjects were religious figures. I guess people back then just didn't imagine that they can depict a non-religious person or object and still think that that end product is art. So bizarre.

I love the intricate mosaics. It shows the painstaking effort that was needed to produce such wonders.

And finally, some secular aspect of the museum, showing pottery from the period.

Readers probably know how I find religion off-putting, but at the same time, I recognize that religion is such a cultural catalyst, and plenty of cultural developments one can observe in history are driven by religion. Hence, the things that were preserved were religious artifacts and objects, and the Byzantine Period is not different in this respect.

Anyway, I loved Thessaloniki, and I loved its museums as well. This is perhaps the best one I have seen, and I totally recommend it to people who are visiting.

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