Church of Honest Precursor

On the south-eastern of the village in distance of 100 meters from the last houses, the church of Honest Precursor is found. It is the main temple of the village and it is dedicated in Ioannis the Baptizer. It is built in a plateau in the middle of the lush from leftokaries, valley of Ampelias. It has quite a big courtyard, part of which, until 25 years ago was also used for cemetery. In the end of the courtyard huge cypresses have grown.

The church is triklitou Royal style. Explicit testimonies about when it was built do not exist. The experts studying the murals and the buildings, calculate it to be a part of 15th century and the other part of 16th century. The recess of the holy step and its surroundings is of the15th century. How does this happen? The new building of the first southern arch from Eastern is adjoining with the old building covering part of mural. This obviously appears from a big slot that exists between the two buildings.

A view, after a study of Robert Going that worked in the maintainance of murals in 1997, is that initially the church was monoklitou style of Saint Christina (Paraskevis).Later either because the population increased, or for other reasons, they demolished the two exterior walls, that at all probability were also illustrated, leaving only upright the Eastern wall of the Sanctuary with its murals.

In my opinion, they built the exterior Eastern wall in the width that they wanted, closing in the first wall of the Sanctuary. This conclusion is also drawn from the thickness of the wall that appears in the window of Sanctuary. It is almost one meter. Comparing it with the corresponding thickness of the wall in the church of Cross or Saint Christina, the difference is enormous. No comparison. Consequently I tend to accept the version of Robert Going as correct.

Gentleman Athanassios Papageorgiou agrees to that, Byzantinologue of the department of Antiquities in Cyprus, gentleman Sophocles Sofokleous also a special Byzantinologue, the Monk Simeon and the Icon painters and researchers of Religious painting of churches in Cyprus.

The murals that can be found in the Sanctuary and in Iconostasis of the temple are works of Axenti and were painted in 1510. The remainder murals are works of Loukas Tohniti and they were painted in the beginning of 1600. His Works are also the murals of the Monastery of Saint Iraklediou. Loukas Tohnitis has never signed in his works.

Works of Simeon Tohniti Axenti are the churches of Saint Sozomenos of Galata, Metamorphosis Palaihoriou, Archangel Micheal and Virgin Mary of Galata.

The first monoklitos church, would have,I believe a sign with the names of donors, the chronology of construction or even the name the icon painter, as it also happens in other churches that Simeon Axentis painted. The signs were placed above the door of exit in the internal part of wall.

In a final research of mine in the murals, I discovered in a sign, which keeps in his the hands and it is situated in the Western edge of the murals, above the table for the candles, the word FRUGAL. There that the sign finishes , which is reffered to the apparition of Prophet Daniel, two small lines exist , that the painter pulled and wrote FRUGAL under it. As father Simeon believes, they are the initials of the name of painter LOUKAS J. TOHNJTI.

In 1998 Saint Intention (Agia Prothesi) was demolished, which had been built later, for practical reasons. As we expected, the first Saint Intention or Crib was revealed, as it is usually said , an opening in the wall with the “Total Humiliation” painted, very well maintained and part of the other murals. Thus we have also a more evident aspect of the first old building.

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The church is separated in three declinable from two rows of arches. Every row has five arches. The beginning and the end of each row are supported on the walls. In between, they are supported on three pillars with capitals by sculptured Stone. The last base of arches, on the weste, is a squared building. There, the murals also stop. The four arches and the three columns from the Sanctuary are completely covered with murals.

These murals are appreciable. Recently there was a cleaning and their maintenance and the cost was covered by the Department of Antiquities and the Institution of Leventi.

The church allocated only the sum of £2.000 in 1999, for the maintenance of the Table for Candles. The technical work was undertaken by the Department of Maintenance of Murals of Institute of Art Courtauld of University of London.

Warm thanks on all the people who contributed and helped in the conduct of the whole work.

The texts on the churches and the chapels were written by Reverend Papandrea Dimosthenous.

Church of Honest Cross

On the East of the village, low there where the houses end, the church of Honest Cross is found. It is triklitos Royal type, similar with the church of Honest Precursor, but a little smaller. It is separated in three declinable of two rows of arches with five Arches in each row. The arches are supported in four Pillars in every row. The two last edges are supported on the walls. The Pillars have Capitals, wooden with carves,unusual thing , if not unique.

The church does not have murals, except one and only. It presents Saint Georgio in natural size, riding his horse and keeping a spear in his hand .

On the walls of the Holy step and arches, earthen pitchers are built. Their orifices, diameter of 3-4 inches, are found on the surface of the walls, like holes. They are the soundboxes of the church, in order to strengthen the voice.

The only testimony about when the church was bult, is that of the Italian Ambassador. In 1410, hundred of years before the church of Honest Precursor, any other specific chronology does not exist.

A bell tower from concrete was also manufactured, so the use of traditional bells stopped, which was hanged from a sector of adjacent olive tree.There have been various repairs in the church. The last one has involved important changes in its architecture. As in the church of Precursor thus here, the southerner and the northern wall were erected and the traditional inclining roof with the stiffed tile plate, was replaced with another roof more inclining and a newer French type of tile.

The texts on the churches and the chapels were written by Reverend Papandrea Dimosthenous.

Chapel of Saint Christina-Saint Paraskevi

North-westernly of the village in distance of two kilometers the chapel of Saint Christina is found. It is unknown when the chapel was considered to be on the honor of Saint Paraskevi, who is also especially honored.

It is built in the ridge of a hill, in spectacular place. Easternly and southernly there are crofts and gardens. On the west the Mountain of Pyroi is raised , full of pines. It took the name of “Fire”, perhaps from the red colour of soil. on the North the steep pyramidical mountain of Hainatou is raised. From a narration of my grand mother, it took its name from some robbers who were called said “Hainides” and had their den there. There in the chapel the wild and tame around nature are compatibly matched. The chapel is connected with a nice street, with the main street of Aska’ – Fterikoudiou.

The experts claim that in the old times they have expanded the church, with extension to the west, from there where the murals stop. Also that the only existing window, was the door of entry of the initial building. I have doubts for this, because firstly the window is very narrow for entry and second the window remains internally unbreakable connected with the murals, as it was before.It is a small monoklitos church of Royal style, with the characteristic type of the very inclining roof of churches of the region Troodous, with tile plate and hook, that is hanged in the morines of the roof. Its architecture has been maintained well without differentiations.

The church was built in 1518. Donors were Konstantinos Marda’kis and his wife Mantelen. He is reported a in sign in the interior of the church above the window.

The Sanctuary of the church and the half of the mainly temple, are religious painted. The murals have been maintained by the department of antiquities in 1993 – 1994 and they are marvelous. It is likely to be a work of Simeon Axenti, who lived and created at this period.

The texts on the churches and the chapels were written by Reverend Papandrea Dimosthenous.