1st Day (30.05.2022)

Rock-cut Monastery in Inceğiz (No.1 – No.3)

Three clusters of rock-cut spaces in the massive rock outcrops of the Karasu Valley on the way between Metrai and Sergentzion display a multilevel layout. The complex includes a large transverse-nave church, a domed cruciform church, a hermit cell with extant wall paintings, several rooms arranged on different levels, and sheepfolds.

The so-called Monastery of St. Nicholas
The rupestrian complex, only 600 meters from the fortified settlement of Medeia (Kıyıköy), consists of a barrel-vaulted three-aisled basilica surrounded by an ambulatory, an hagiasma, a burial chamber, and a hermit cell. The spatial characteristics and epigraphic and art historical evidence indicate that the site was primarily designed and arranged around a pilgrimage activity. In the mid-19th century, the complex was restored and re-established as a monastery dedicated to St. Nicholas.

2nd Day (31.05.2022)

Çalışkan Çiftliği

The 1.25-ha forest glade, located 2.7 km west of Medeia (Kıyıköy), houses a roughly-carved single-nave church and five rock-cut agrarian installations.


Balkaya Village (Church 1 – Church 2)
Two carved churches (one is a single-nave and the other two-aisled) are located at the southwest of the present Balkaya Village within the forestland between Bizye (Vize) and Medeia (Kıyıköy).


Asmakayalar, meaning overhanging rocks, can be identified as a lavra-type monastic settlement that covers the entire valley of a small tributary of the Ergene river, ca. 1 km northeast of Bizye. The eastern bank houses the core area, arranged in two clusters. The northern cluster consists of a small funerary chamber, a single-nave church with a relatively large narthex accommodating burial places, and adjacent living cells, while the southern cluster contains a large central church, transformed from a pre-existing natural cave, the south church with a unique design and high level of workmanship, an interconnected hermit cell, and a series of living units.


Vize (City Walls)
The surviving sections of the city walls display a multi-layered history, reflecting successive phases of restoration and rebuilding. Six different construction techniques are identified, the earliest of which is presumably from the building activity in the 2nd century CE as recorded on two dedicatory inscriptions, one found in Tzurulon (Çorlu) and the other in Burgas. The different sections of the walls and towers (pentagonal, U-shaped, circular, etc.) are attributed to the later phases in the 3rd-4th centuries, 5th century, 5th-6th centuries, 7th-9th centuries, and finally in the Late Middle Ages, primarily based on an analysis and comparison of the masonry types.


Vize (Church of Hagia Sophia)
Hagia Sophia Church, the former cathedral of Bizye, is a domed basilica preceded by a two-leveled tripartite narthex. It displays a three-aisled scheme on the ground level, surrounded by galleries on three sides; a domed cruciform design is applied in the upper structure. Neither the original dedication nor construction date of the present structure is securely known. Based on a disappeared inscription (recorded inside the naos by Georgios Lampousiades in 1920-1922), Cyril Mango identifies the church as the first burial place of St. Mary the Younger, proposing a terminus ante quem at the beginning of the 10th century.

3rd Day (01.06.2022)

Gemikaya (Soğucak)

The small, probably monastic settlement is located on top of a pillar-like rock mass, previously used as a Thracian rock sanctuary. A single-nave church, apparently covered with a timber roof, is found on the highest level, together with unidentified adjacent rooms. At a lower level there is a rectangular basin covered with hydraulic plaster, stepped foundations of now-lost structures, and traces of quarrying activities. Glazed pottery sherds indicate a continuous occupation between the 12th and 14th centuries.


Erenler Village (Tavşanhisar Castle)

The small fortified settlement, albeit in a ruinous condition, is located on a hill on the northern parallel of the Via Diagonalis, ca. 4.5 km east of Pınarhisar (Brysis). On the southeastern slopes of the fortified hill are a number of stone quarries, rock-cut tombs, and carved agricultural installations.


Pınarhisar (City Walls)

Pınarhisar (Brysis), a primary local center located roughly 20 km west of Bizye. The city walls are partially preserved in two sections: Three towers and some parts of the body walls in the citadel, albeit heavy-handedly restored in the 1980s, and fragmentary remains of the lower circuit. Based on the masonry techniques and stylistic comparisons, three main construction phases can be suggested: 4th to 6th centuries for the ashlar masonry of the lower city walls, the second half of the 12th century for the alternating brick and stone construction with recessed courses on the circular towers of the citadel, and mid-14th century for the rectangular tower.


Kaynarca (Rock-cut Complex)

The rupestrian complex consists of a nicely-carved barrel-vaulted transverse hall with an exedra at the northeastern end and a square-planned kitchen with a conical roof terminating with a ventilation hole. Until recently, two village houses were leaning against the rock façade, and the carved rooms were adopted for various uses, primarily as sheepfolds and storage. As a result, the worn-out exterior preserves a palimpsest of traces of past usages. In comparison with the rock-cut elite houses in Cappadocia, the complex can be identified as an aristocratic residence with a central courtyard.


Kaynarca (Panagia Church)

Panagia Church, one of the few surviving Byzantine ecclesiastical buildings in the Strandzha Region, displays a cross-in-square design with elongated proportions in the so-called compact variation in which the tripartite sanctuary is integrated into the cruciform layout. The central dome rests on four piers as accustomed in the provinces. Like many small-scale rock-cut churches, the church in Kaynarca does not have a narthex. The construction is tentatively placed in the late 10th or early 11th centuries on stylistic grounds.

4th Day (02.06.2022)

Skopelos (Yoğuntaş)

Skopelos, Eski Polos or today Yoğuntaş, 22 km northwest of Kırklareli, is a primary local center near the northwestern border of the Empire, founded as a heavily fortified settlement and a suffragan of Adrianople in the 8th century. The city walls enclose a 4 ha area that housed a continuous occupation in the Middle and Late Byzantine periods until the shift of the settlement following the Ottoman conquest in 1373.



Kuzulu (Rock-cut Hermitage and Fortified Settlement) 

The rock-cut hermitage is located on the southern slope of the same hill, arranged in two terraces. The carved rooms of the upper terrace include a single-nave church with extant furniture and a three-niched burial chamber that provides a connection to the lower terrace. The lower level features a series of artificially enlarged natural caves that can be identified as living cells. Fortified settlement occupies a rather isolated small hill at the northern end of a valley to the north of Kuzulu Village, some fifteen km away from Kırklareli, covers a roughly rectangular area, measuring 110 to 55 meters.

5th Day (03.06.2022)

Skaloti Monastery

Skaloti Monastery is a partially rock-carved settlement laid out on terraces of a rocky promontory northeast of Çavuşköy, ca. 8 km southeast of Enez. The complex has a dominant post-Byzantine phase, for it continued to function as a monastery until the early 20th century. The built structures that complemented the carved spaces, such as masonry walls and timber roofs, are now lost yet recorded in the early photographs. In addition to a large number of constructional ceramics and course wares, the site provides many glazed pottery sherds, some datable to the 13th-14th centuries.


Enez (Kral Kızı Basilica)

Kral Kızı Basilica located outside of the citadel, south-east of the city Ainos (Enez) and near the Taşaltı Lake is a five aisled basilica with a large sanctuary. Excavations carried out by various institutions between 1984-1992 and since 2008 point out that the basilica was multi-phased and was used during the Ottoman period. Although Ousterhout (2007) dated the basilica to the Transitional period (the late sixth to the ninth century) based on the masonry of the building, with the unearthing of the whole building and architectural plastic fragments the basilica is now dated to the Early Byzantine period, particularly to the Justinianic period.


Enez (Has Yunus Bey Tomb)

Has Yunus Bey Tomb is located in the lower city, near the harbour, in an old cemetery area. It was originally built as a small chapel with a cross plan scheme, and then converted into a mausoleum for the commander of the Ottoman fleet in the 15th century. Although the original construction date of the building remains uncertain, it is dated to the 14th or 15th century due to its small size and rough construction technique.


Enez (City Walls)

Enez city walls were built on the acropolis hill of the ancient city of Ainos to the east of the lagoon, Dalyan Gölü, and south of the Hebros river and dated from the ancient and medieval periods. The citadel with an oval plan extended in the northwest-southeast direction is thought to have been built in the Middle Byzantine Period and been restored in the late 13th and early 14th century. The main entrance is on the west side. There are three churches, foundations of medieval residential architecture and a large building complex within the city wall.


Enez (Fatih Mosque)

Fatih Mosque (Fatih Camii) situated inside the citadel of Ainos (Enez), is originally a large domed basilica measuring ca. 21.00 x 38.00 m. Two important restorations were carried out between 1979-1982 and 2017-2022. Though Eyice (1969) and Vocotoupoulos (1981) dated the church to the Palaiologan period (the 13th-14th centuries), Mango (1976) and Ousterhout (1985, 2007) dated it to the Komnenian period (the 12th century). Ousterhout claims that the monument is similar to the 12th-century churches of Constantinople in decorative brick patterning. 


Enez (Chuch of St. Gregory of Neocaesarea)

Church of St. Gregory of Neocaesarea is a small cross-in-square church covered with a small dome on a tall drum situated inside the Ainos (Enez) city walls. The church was standing at least in the early 20th century and it was uncovered during the excavations in the 1980s. Marble architectural decoration elements and opus sectile floors were also found in the area. Although it is controversial whether the structure is dated to the Middle Byzantine Period or the 13th century, it is stated that the dome must have been built in the Palaiologan Period.


Enez (Church of Theotokos Chrysopege)

Church of Theotokos Chrysopege is a single-naved small chapel with a timber roof located in the western part of the Ainos (Enez) city walls. According to an inscription on the wall of the church, which is lost today, the building is dated to 1422/3, during the rule of Palamede Gattilusio. The church was functioning until the end of the 19th century.

6th Day (04.06.2022)

Castle of Didymoteichon

Didymoteichon stands approximately 50 km north of Via Egnatia, 47 km west of Via Regia, and right next to river Evros (Meriç), an important waterway leading to Adrianoupoli (Edirne). The fortified area is the best-preserved part of the city. At least 20 towers and several gates dating from different periods surrounding the oval shaped citadel. Inside the citadel a great number of rock-cut spaces (storage rooms, cisterns and possibly dwellings) indicate a vibrant medieval community.


Byzantine Chapel of St Catherine (Hagia Aikaterini)

A chapel with a typical late byzantine façade in the North slope of the citadel is now dedicated to Hagia Aikaterini (St. Catherine). Its excavation during the 1980s exposed several burials indicating a funerary use.


Holy Cathedral of Saint Athanasius (Hagios Athanasios)

Another Late Byzantine chapel next to the 19th century St. Athanasios church, is partially preserved. The narrow oblong space served as a funeral chapel, with tombs positioned under blind arcades. Important traces of wall paintings survive; two representations of a flying enthroned figure are perhaps the most impressive amongst them. Several spaces, partially built and partially rock-cut (storage rooms and cisterns), have been found north of the chapel of St. Athanasios.


Castle of Avantas

The castle stands near the modern-day village of Avantas. Its original Byzantine name is unknown. The fortification consists of two lines of walls, four rectangular towers, and two gates, the central being two-storied, exceeding 140m in length. It is enclosing the citadel only through the accessible SW slope since the hill is already too steep on the NE sides. Some traces of habitations still exist in few parts of the citadel along with several rock-cut formations (mostly cisterns).



Maroneia, originally founded around the 7th century BCE, became a bishop’s seat during the 4th century and later, during the 11th, was promoted to an Archbishopric. Α byzantine Basilica with extensive mosaic floors has been excavated in the site of Palaiochora. As the evidence suggests, the area of the basilica was encroached upon by a vast cemetery during the transitional period and a small settlement was built on the site using the architectural material of the basilica during the middle byzantine period. Maroneia’s port, in modern day Palaiochora, played an important role throughout the Byzantine period. 

7th Day (05.06.2022)

Maximianoupolis – Mosynoupolis

Maximianoupolis, an important city in the Thracian plain, was already a bishopric in the 6th century. A centrally planned church has been excavated within the fortified area, consisting of a hexagonal domed core surrounded by an ambulatory and containing a tripartite sanctuary and a narthex with a baptistery. A staircase in the south side of the narthex points towards a second floor; it has been proposed that the gallery was further extended above the ambulatory. A coin found under the floor of the building that survived in very good condition dated the construction to the 11th century. 


Stone Bridge of Kompsatos

The bridge stands near the modern-day village of Polyantho (also having a Byzantine castle), where the river Kompsatos, coming from the Rhodope mountains, meets the Thracian plain. The bridge, dated to the 15th century, was three-arched (today only the middle and eastern survive) with a direction from West to East. The middle arch was the highest, reaching 12m. 


Ancient City of Anaktoroupolis

West of the modern-day village of Nea Peramos rises a castle identified as the Byzantine city of Anaktoroupolis. The city is mentioned in the sources as early as the 10th century. Its importance increases during the 14th century under the ruling or two brothers, Alexios and Ioannes (later primekerios and protosevastos respectively), who initially as mercenaries of the emperor and later on their behalf, manage to reoccupy several castles from the Turks and Serbs.


Mt. Menoikeion, Monastery of Timios Prodromos

The monastery is situated 12 km NE of Serres. Founded around 1270-1278 by Ioannikios, a monk from Mount Athos and later restored, by his nephew Joachim, who also became a monk by the name John. The katholikon with several construction phases especially from the 13th, 14th, and 16th centuries is considered as the building of Joachim, and it dominates the courtyard. Cells for the monks, storage rooms, the refectory and kitchen, a hospital and a guest house, a gate, and a tower are placed around the courtyard.

8th Day (06.06.2022)

Church of Hagia Sophia of Thessalonica

Hagia Sophia Thessaloniki, standing in the place of an older, five aisled basilica, is a cross domed basilica of the transitional period. The imposing composition of the Ascension, typical for the domes of the city, dates to the 9th century. The apse mosaic, an enthroned Virgin Mary with Christ dates to the 11th century, although traces of an earlier cross still survive. The traces of the cross along with inscriptions mentioning an emperor Constantine an empress Eirini as well as the metropolitan Theophilos have led to the dating of the original composition of the apse and the vault of the Sanctuary to the 8th century.


Church of the Virgin Mary Acheiropoietos

The original construction of the church, a basilica with a tripartite narthex in the west, dates back to the 5th century. It was built on the site of a Roman bath, traces of which can be seen on the north aisle of the present building. A second important alteration, which possibly included the addition of the second floor has been dated to the 7th century while a third can be attributed to the 14th. The floor of the church, made of proconnesian marbles, the capitals fine examples of Constantinopolitan style, as well as the columns of the aisles and tribelon survive almost intact. 


Church of Panagia Chalkeon

The church belongs to the cross in square type and is strongly influenced by the Constantinopolitan architecture of the middle Byzantine centuries, both in style and construction methods. A donor’s inscription in the lintel above the main entrance, mentioning Christophoros Protospatharios with his wife and daughters, dates the building to 1028. A few Christological scenes are preserved in the nave (Nativity, Presentation to the Temple, Adoration of the Magi, Pentecost) and liturgical scenes in the sanctuary. In the narthex an extensive Second Coming is developed. In the Palaiologan era several scenes were added, most notably those of the Akathist Hymn.


Church of St. Demetrios

The church is a five-aisled basilica, with a narthex, a transept and a so-called crypt under it. According to tradition the first building on the site was a small oratory serving as a martyrium for the saint. In the 5th century, a certain eparch named Leontios founded a three-aisled basilica which was burnt down in 626-634. After the fire a the five-aisled basilica was erected and continued to transform (with additions like the chapel of Saint Euthymios in the SE corner, the galleries, its transformation to a mosque in 1493 and restoration of Christian worship in 1912) until the disastrous fire of 1917 that burnt it down almost the entirely.


Church of St. Panteleimon

St Panteleimon is a cross in square with an ambulatory (peristoon), a type common for the late Byzantine architecture of Thessaloniki. The church is often identified as the katholikon of a monastery dedicated to Virgin Perivleptos, known from the sources. Very few paintings survive in the lateral apses of the Sanctuary and the ambulatory chapels; amongst them, the most interesting is a depiction of St. James, the brother of God (Αδελφόθεος) which further supports the proposed dedication since the patron of the Perivleptos monastery is know to have been a certain James, metropolitan of Thessaloniki.



A centrally planned building whose construction, dedication and transformation still remain open to discussion. It has been proposed that it was built as an imperial mausoleum (either by Galerius or Constantine) and was later transformed into a Christian church. At some point the original structure was enveloped by a circular ambulatory and several other buildings around it (an eight-sided baptistery and a sixth-sided building later used for burials are still visible in the south). The building preserves impressive mosaics both in the main dome and in the barrel vaults of the original structure.