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Listed 10 sub titles with search on: Places of worship for wider area of: "MYSTRAS Byzantine settlement PELOPONNISOS" .


Places of worship (10)

Cathedrals

MYSTRAS (Byzantine settlement) PELOPONNISOS

St. Demetrios - The Metropolis

  As the visitor approaches he sees the east side of the church, built according to the enclosed brick system, characteristic of ecclesiastical architecture of the middle-Byzantine period.
  The three-storeyed bell-tower on the left - a heavy edifice like a Franklish tower - was built much later, during the 14th century, on top of a pre-existing side chapel, erected shortly after the church and incorporated within it. The original height of its roof may still be discerned from the two horizontal courses of porous stones.
  Proceeding a short distance one sees on the the right a stone with dark stains that suggest drops blood is protected by a grille on the exterior wall of the courtyard. This is traditionally believed to be the spot where Ananias Lambardis, Metropolitan bishop of Lacedaemonia, was executed my the Turks, because he was one of the instigators of the insurrection which ended, three years later, in the uprising of Orloff.
  Beyond it is another of the fountains commonly encountered at Mystra, followed by a gate which leads to the Metropolis. To the right, and at the end of the first paved court with the monumental stairway beyond the fountain a little vaulted stairway leads to the women's gallery from the exterior south side of the church. On the left wall of the landing, formed after the seventh step, the founder's inscription may be read. From it we learn that the church was founded by the Metropolitan Bishop Nicephorus in 1291-92. It reads as follows: "The humble Nicephorus, prelate of Crete, who has as collaborator his brother Aaron, erected this holy house of worship At the time of Andronicus Palaelogus, Who held the sceptre over the Romans, and of his son, Michael, May those who pass here beseech that they be forgiven their sins And found beside the flock on the right had of Christ When He appears at the Last Judgement".
  The original architectural plan of the Metropolis was that of a three-naved basilica. Later, probably in the 15th century, another storey, consisting of a women's gallery and a cruciform roof with five cupolas, was added above the interior frieze of the first storey. The church thus evolved into an architectural form which was to be repeated at the Aphentiko and the Pantanassa; a form which consists of a combination of the three-naved basilica on the ground floor and a cruciform church with five domes and a women's gallery on the upper storey. According to an inscription in relief on the level of the women's gallery, this transformation was the work of Mathew, Metropolitan Bishop of Lacedaemonia.
  The manner whereby the transformation of the shape of the roof was effected - and the reason for which is unknown - resulted the complete destruction of a series of frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Christ on the north side and in lopping off the upper part of others in the central nave. From top (women's gallery) to bottom the church retains its earliest iconography which, since the last cleaning in 1968, has recovered the brilliance of its colors and revealed fresh details now unconverted by the removal of murky deposits and some later frescoes.
  The apse of the sanctuary is dominated by the upright figure of the "Virgin Vrephocratousa". Eleven scenes from the martyrdom of St. Demetrios are depicted in the middle section (towards the sanctuary) of the vault of the north nave.
  The Miracles of Christ are represented on the rest of the vault. Three zones of paintings cover the entire wall space of this nave in the following order (top to bottom): saints within medallions; pairs of martyrs; full length military saints.
  On the opposite nave, in the vaulted section within the sanctuary which contains the Diaconicon, there is a grandiose composition depicting angels preparing the throne of Christ of the "Second Coming". In the remaining section of the nave scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin extend as far as the bishop's wooden throne. Between this point and the narthex the vault is covered with a composition depicting the miracles of Christ which, in accordance with Byzantine tradition, follow one another chronologically, although represented in a single composition, as though depicting events that were occurring simultaneously and not successively.
  Between the sanctuary and narthex full-length figures, probably representing the Apostles: are reanged at a much lower level along the wall of the same nave. The walls the narthex are decorated with a depiction of the "Second Coming". Here all the walls and vaults are covered with representations related to this grandiose composition, at the center of which is the Preparation of the Throne which extends across half the vault, above the wooden entrance door.
  Angels with red wings stand around the throne; below them, on the arches which frame the opening of the door, two angels awaiting the arrival of Christ hold open Books of Judgement.
  The iconographic decoration of the Metropolis - the earliest monument in Mystra and especially rich in inscriptions - must have been executed between 1270 and 1285 and possesses little homogeneity of style. The variety furnished by different schools of painting nevertheless gives this church a special place in the history of Byzantine art, the painted decoration providing a kind of synopsis of earlier styles which foreshadow some of the best work of the Palaeologus renaissance.
  The decoration of the church is completed by the sculptures on the columns and "iconostatis" which consist of reused materials removed from elsewhere and consequently do not present any uniformity of style or epoch. The Double-Headed Eagle, the heraldic device of the Paleologus dynasty, is depicted in relief on a plaque on the pavement in center of the church. Polychrome marble fragments of the early pavement survive here and there. The subject-matter of the incised inscriptions on the columns consists of an inventory of the church's various buildings and dependencies.
 Fragmentary frescoes of prelates are visible on the exterior walls of the colonnaded court which recalls the architecture of the Renaissance. The Marmara sarcophagus is placed on the south side of the court. Immediately opposite is the Museum, the ground floor of which possesses a large collection of inscriptions, bas-reliefs, columnettes and capitals removed from various churches and mansions.
  Fragments of frescoes from ruined chapels, portative icons, jewelry, coins and a piece of Byzantine cloth found in the course of excavation are displayed in the second hall. The court, including its colonnades and the group of outhouses which now form the Museum, were built by the Metropolitan Bishop Ananias, who was executed outside the buildings by the Turks. The relevant inscription embedded in the wall of the second storey balcony of the Museum runs as follows: "The chambers and gates here are not ancient But built by Bishop Ananias Who has renewed them from their Bases, at a cost Paid from Dimitsana 1754".

This text is cited Apr 2003 from the Laconian Professionals URL below, which contains images.


Churches

Agia Sophia

  The church was built in the 14th century by Manuel Cantacuzenus, first Despot of Mystra. In a probable attempt to revive memories of the Constantinopoitan way of life, he have this official palace chapel a name, hallowed by tradition, that would recall the "Great Church" of the capital.
  Here, it is said, were laid the bones of Theodora Tocco, first wife of Constantine Palaelogus; here too, it is believed, was buried Cleopa Malatesta, wife of Theodore Palaelogos.
  The architectural style of St. Sophia - distyle cruciform crowned by a dome - is similar to that of the Evanghelistria.
  The narthex, crowned by a large dome, is unusually large in relation to the main naos. On the north side, from which the visitor now enters the church, there is a portico, and chapels have been built in the four angles of the church. The elegant silhouette of the belfry rises at the west end of the portico. During the Turkish occupation, when St. Sophia converted into a mosque, the belfry served as a minaret.
  Only a few of the original frescoes are preserved in the church. The fact that one of these representing Christ, spreads across the sanctuary apse may have given rise to the theory that the church was dedicated to Christ, the Life-Giver, and not, as traditionally believed, to the Holy Wisdom. On a higher level are four angels holding a circular Glory which formed part of a large composition of the Ascension covering the entire surface of the vault in the sanctuary.
  More frescoes are preserved in the two east chapels, one of which is entered from the church, the other from outside. On the walls of the first chapel are depicted Christ, the Nativity of the Virgin above the entrance, and the Divine Liturgy. Nearly all the frescoes in the second chapel are well preserved: the "Virgin Platytera", the Dormition of the Virgin, the Crucifixion, the Descent into the Hell, the Pantocrator and the Heavenly Powers.
  Fragments of sculptural decoration, including the Monorgan of Manuel Cantacuzenus, the founder, and the Double-Headed Eagle of the Paleologoi are preserved on the capital of a column. The words Despotis and Cantacouzinos, are inscribed in abbreviated form on the capitals of two marble pilasters near the narthex. Outside, a few meters beyond the present entrance to the church, two round holes in the ground indicate the position of a large underground cistern in which water was preserved for the needs of the Monastery, Running water, flowing in pipes from the opposite side of the Mountain, which is very fertile, only reached the level of the Palace. Higher up, in the direction of the Castle, there are neither remains nor traces of a single fountain, other than cisterns for preserving rain water.
  The elegant oblong building with numerous apertures and apses near the north-west of the belfry was the refectory of the Monastery. Full length figures of saints which decorated all the apses and apertures of the edifice can still be distinguished.

This text is cited Apr 2003 from the Laconian Professionals URL below, which contains images.


Evanghelistria

  Few facts regarding the history of the church, which must have been built in the 14th or 15th century, have come down to us.
  The proportions are pleasing, and there are some beautiful brick revetments, especially on the exterior wall of the sanctuary. Architecturally, the Evanghelistria is distyly cruciform, like the Peribleptos and St. Sophia. Judging form fragments of frescoes, on must conclude that the church was decorated in the 15th century, with the exception of the "iconostassis" which is adorned with inferior paintings of the late 19th. On the other hand, the sculptural decoration is not without interest, its unity of style indicating that all the sculptures were carved for this church itself, instead of what we see in the other churches of Mystra. The capitals, the door-surround of the "Beautiful Gate" and the inner entrance to the church are characteristic specimens of this form of sculpture.
  Behind the church other buildings have been added to the main edifice. The stairway leading to the women's balcony, the roof of which no longer survives was here.

This text is cited Apr 2003 from the Laconian Professionals URL below, which contains image.


Pantanassa

  Build in the 15th century (1428), by John Phrangopoulos, the Pantanassa was the last edifice to be raised during the Despotate, and it provides an example of a harmonious conflation of the various styles of church architecture fashionable at Mystra into a single unity.
  Architecturally, the Pantanassa resembles the Aphendiko and the Metropolis: basilica type below, cruciform with domes on the upper storey.
  Two porticoes, one (preserved intact) overlooking the valley of the Eurotas, another outside the narthex, and of which only traces of the base of the wall survive, provided a felicitous harmony to the church's numerous architectural volumes. These porticoes, a popular feature of ecclesiastical architecture at Mystra, although of Constantipolitan origin, were adapted with such a sound sense of both calculation and fantasy to the difficulties inherent in the configuration of the ground that they succeeded, in conformity with the space available, in achieving a most original and aesthetically satisfying equipoise to the various architectural volumes. In the north-west corner a superb four-storied belfry with foundations in the court, and whose lowest storey contains a chapel .surmounts the whole complex of buildings. The two upper stories of the belfry have large pointed arches of Gothic influence with "tympana" decorated with threefold apertures on all four sides. Unmistakable indicators of Western artistic influences are apparent in whole construction; the melon shaped cupola the turrets on the summit, the small windows with a cupola trefoil design above the colonnade.
  Different artistic styles are also evident in the expert and lavish exterior decoration of the sanctuary, which is divided into three zones. The upper zone, embellished with brickwork decoration,is indeed completely Byzantine. if not Constantinopolitan, in style; The middle one, late Gothic in style, is decorated with small pointed arches and stone-wrought garlands adorned with blooms; the lower one is plain and unadorned.
  The church which, apart from the dome, has remained intact, unharmed by the ravages of time, possesses frescoes in a relatively good state of preservation.
  From the women's gallery upwards, the paintings are of the Byzantine period, contemporary with the actual foundation of the church. The most characteristic works are the "Virgin Platytera" in the sanctuary and, on a higher level the Ascension which spreads across the entire vault of the sanctuary. In the curved expanse of the east arm of the cross which circumscribes the base of the dome are depicted the Entry to Jerusalem and the Descent into Hell, which is in a women's gallery are representations of the Annunciation on the left, the Nativity on the right.
  The Presentation in the Temple and a somewhat damaged Baptism spread across the west vault near the narthex. In the north vault are depictions of the Transfiguration and the Raising of Lazarus. The little domes and walls of the women's gallery are decorated with fairly well preserved figures of prophets.
  The frescoes on the upper register are the last representative works of Byzantine art, which, although "now approaching its twilight", still possessed sufficiently dynamic potentialities to "create new styles" and raise "pretty little Churches". These frescoes are distinguished by a wide range of lavish colour - combinations unique in Byzantine art, by the number of figures depicted in the compositions, by the crowded architectural detail with numerous edifices filling in the background of the various scenes, and, above by a tendency to reproduce a human form which corresponded physically to the setting in which it was placed.
  On the south side of the narthex is the tomb of Manuel Hadzikis, a Byzantine notable of Mystra, who is depicted on the wall in an attitude of prayer.
  Tradition has it that the bones of Theodora Tocco, first wife of Constantine Palaelogous, were lain in the Pantanassa. On the other hand, the historian Phratzis records that her mortal remains were buried in 1429 in the Monastery of the Life-Giver, that is to say, St. Sophia.
  The hospitable nuns of the Pantanassa, who charm the visitors with their civility and kindness, are the last remaining inhabitants of the ruined city, destined to play the dual role of survivors and guardians of the Byzantine tradition.

This text is cited Apr 2003 from the Laconian Professionals URL below, which contains images.


Peribleptos

  A bas-relief with a design of two upright heraldic lions on either side of the monogram of the Peribleptos surmounts the arched entrance of the peribolus of the Monastery. Little is known of either the history of the church or of its founder. There are only two indications: one of a representation of a man and woman, doubtless the founders, offering a model of the church to the Virgin, on the tympanum of the blind arch of the drum on the west wall of the lower storey, below the depiction of the Descent into Hell: the other consists of the name of Byzantine notable, Leon Mavropappas, inscribed above the outer entrance of the adjacent narthex which is of a later date.
  Two buildings of the original monastery survive: the church with its chapels, and the refectory, a tower-like edifice with distinct Frankish features, situated on the north side of the peribolous. Architecturally the Peribleptos belongs to the type of distyle cruciform church in which the dome is supported by two columns and two engaged pilasters embedded in the walls of the sanctuary. Certain individual architectural features, however, result from a projection of rock and the general configuration of the ground. The main entrance, for instance, is on the north, instead of the west, side and the shape of the church is not, as usual, rectangular. Later, two small chapels, constructed in the cloissone stonewalling method, were added on the east side. An impression of a church that does not rest on the ground but is somehow borne in mid-air is thus created.
  The Peribleptos possesses the most lavish and best preserved painted decoration at Mystra. The frescoes, cleaned in 1962, are dated to the mid 14th century. The walls of the Prothesis immediately left of entrance, are decorated with a magnificent Divine Liturgy, one of the finest frescoes in the whole of Mystra. A meticulous attention to rhythm, which seems to create the effect of a serene other-worldliness, emphasizes the whole composition, which is rendered particularly striking by the uniform angularities of the movements of the figures in the divine procession. The Virgin Platytera is depicted in the ape of the sanctuary. Higher up, the entire vault is covered with a representation of the Ascension, with four superb angels surrounding Christ.
  On the two walls below are depicted scenes from the Holy Communion.
  On the upper part of the apse of the Diaconicon there is a marvelously preserved Sleeping Christ, in the left vault the Denial of Peter and the Road to Calvary and the Crucifixion. In the vaults surrounding the dome unfold scenes from the Dodekaorton .
  In the east vault are representations of the Transfiguration and the Raising of Lazarus, and right of the Last Supper and the Entry into Jerusalem; in the north vault Pentecost and the Incredulity of Thomas.
  Alone among the churches of Mystra the Peribleptos preserves frescoes in the dome; a grandiose pantocrator which occupies a small sector in the center. while the remaining surface each containing a Cherubim at the top and a pair of Prophets below, the Virgin flanked by two Angels and directly opposite, the Preparation of the Throne. There are also full-length figures of prophets around the tympana of the windows.
  Scenes of the Passion cover the walls of the church. Among the most beautiful are the Descent from the Cross on the south wall and the Descent into Hell on the west wall above the fresco of the founders.
  The life of the Virgin is lavishly illustrated in a band which girdles almost the entire church. The finest of these scenes is the grandiose Dormition on the north wall, immediately above the entrance. On a lower level full-length life-size figures of military saints, angels, prophets and bishops are depicted on pilasters, arches and the remaining expanses of wall-space. The border tendencies which distinguished the painted decoration of the Aphendiko are less evident here. The conservative spirit which prevailed in mid-14th century Byzantium under the Cantacuzenus dynasty seems to have influenced the creative are of the period. The world-famous frescoes of the Peribleptos, while bearing a remarkable resemblance to the detailed work characteristic of portative icons, also foreshadowed the so-called Cretan School which was to dominate the post-Byzantine period.

This text is cited Apr 2003 from the Laconian Professionals URL below, which contains images.


St. Christopher

  The church was restored in 1954. Judging from the few surviving frescoes - figures of Apostles on the central arch of the south wall, St. Christopher (of which only the head survives) on a lower above the doorway, and a bishop enthroned on the following tympanum - the church can be dated to the late 14th century. These small chapels, mostly sepulchres, scattered all over the hill of Mystra, served as private churches of distinguished families.

This text is cited Apr 2003 from the Laconian Professionals URL below, which contains image.


St. George

  Restored in 1953, this is one of the most characteristic of Mystra's chapels. The south roof, with its attractive brickwork decoration, is particularly interesting. Like other chapels at Mystra, St. George served as a private church, the property of some aristocratic family whose members were buried here.

This text is cited Apr 2003 from the Laconian Professionals URL below, which contains image.


The Holy Theodoroi

  The exterior brickwork decoration of the sanctuary is particularly lavish; moreover the cloissonne walling and glazed plaques create a decorative ensemble that harmonizes most felicitously with the architectural disposition of the church. Build in 1295 and restored by Professor Orlandos in 1932, the church belongs to the type of "cruciform octagonal naos ". The dome is thus supported at eight points which form an octagon distinguishable in the ground plan. The church is, in fact, the last extant example of an architectural edifice of this kind - a type fashionable between the 11th and 13th centuries - later in date to the Monastery of Hosios Loukas, Daphi (11th century) and St. Sophia at Monembassia (end 12th century).
  The main feature of this type of church is the large dome crowing a high drum which dominates the whole of the central area of the ground floor and, by reason of its height, compels the worshipper to turn his gaze unwittingly to the point where the Pantocrator reigns glory.
  Of the church's painted decoration there survive some full-length figures of "military saints" which are distinguished by the live-liness and freedom ofmovement of their somewhat realistic attitudes. The style recalls paintings of the Macedonia School.
  Both within and outside the church there are many tombs. The two chapels, added to the western side of the church and entered from the now blocked-in narthex, also served as sepulchres, as well as the Prothesis within the sanctuary where there is the tomb of a certain Manuel Paleologos, according to an inscription accompanying the relevant representation on the wall. On the interior wall above the entrance to the Diaconicon extends the Domition of the Virgin in a relatively good state of preservation, though covered with crystalline deposits.

This text is cited Apr 2003 from the Laconian Professionals URL below, which contains images.


Monasteries

Monastery of Vrontouchi

  A large group of buildings comprising two imposing churches, ruined edifices and remains of an outer wall which surrounded the whole complex, once constituted the wealthiest monastery at Mystra: the Vrontochion, as it was called at the peak of its prosperity.
  The founder was Pachomius, the Great Protocyncellus of the Peloponnese. By means of his services to the Emperor in the management of the political affairs of the Despotate, this energetic cleric succeeded in gaining so many privileges and receiving so many donations from the imperial bounry that in the course of twenty years he founded two churches (The Holy Theodoroi and the Panagia Hodeghetria or Aphentiko), complete with cells, towers and refectories unsurpassed in lavishness. He also finally succeeded in obtaining the privilege, granted by the Emperor, of declaring the Monastery independent of the local ecclesiastical authorities and establishing its dependence on the Patriarch.
  The monastery's privileged position during the period of the Despotate probably accounted for its appellation of Aphendiko; a name derived from the official personages who were members of its community and from the enormous wealth which came under its administration, thus likening it to the most powerful "Aphendi" of the locality.

This text is cited Apr 2003 from the Laconian Professionals URL below, which contains image.


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