Church of Saints Theodore
Photo by Мико
Serres is a city in Macedonia on the Strymon River. In late antiquity a polis of Macedonia I, Serres is mentioned by Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos as a polis in the eparchia of Rhodope. Its first known bishop participated in the council of 449. The history of Serres is obscure until the end of the 10th century, when it played a role in the war with the Bulgarians and one of the Kometopouloi, Moses, was killed while besieging the city. Before 997 Serres was elevated to the rank of metropolis. From the end of the 12th century onward, it was again at the center of military operations: in 1185 the Normans ravaged its territory; around 1195 the Bulgarians defeated the army of the sebastokrator Isaac Komnenos near Serres; Boniface of Montferrat occupied the city; and in 1206 it fell to the Bulgarians. George Akropolites writes that Serres, a large city in the past, was destroyed by Kalojan and transformed into a kome with a fortified acropolis, whereas the lower town was protected only by a plain stone wall erected without lime mortar. Serres was recovered by John III Vatatzes in 1246. Its significance grew in the 14th century, when a contemporary historian called Serres "a large and marvelous asty."
In 1345, Serres fell to Stefan Uroš IV Dušan. After Dugan's death, Serres and the surrounding territory formed an independent "principality," first under Dugan's widow Helena, and under the despotes John Ugljega. In this principality Greek was the official language; the Greek oikeioi of the despotes played an important part in the administration; and the links with Constantinople and Mt. Athos remained strong. After the battle at Marcia in 1371 Manuel II Palaiologos, John V's son, who ruled in Thessaloniki, gained control over Serres. The city finally fell to the Ottomans on 19 Sept. 1383.
The well-preserved walls of the fortress date from various periods, with major construction in the path and 13th century; the so-called Tower of Orestes, at the highest point of the fortifications, was built under Dugan, as shown by an inscription. The architecture of the Church of St. Nicholas in the lower town is similar to the Panagia Chalkeon in Thessaloniki and can be dated to 11th-12th century. The metropolitan church, Sts. Theodore, had a mosaic of the Communion of the Apostles in the apse. The church itself was burned in 1913, then rebuilt, but fragmentary figures of the Apostles have been taken to Thessaloniki; their stylistic affinities with the mosaics of Daphni and the frescoes of Hagios Chrysostomos on Cyprus indicate a date in the very early 12th century. The Church of St. Nicholas within the fortress resembles the Holy Apostles in Thessaloniki in construction and is dated to the early 14th century. The nearby monastery of the Prodromos on Mt. Menoikeion was founded in the late 13th century.
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Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium edited by Alexander Kazhdan
Church of St. Nicholas
Photo by G.Garitan