Friday, 2 December 2016

Cyprus - My 7 day circuit across the country - Day 7 morning - Troodos Mountains - The UNESCO churches of Panagia tis Poditho and Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis and the UNESCO Monastery Agios Ioannis Lampadistis - The 11th of November 2016

We drove into the Galata area in the Central Troodos Mountains to visit the 1502 Panagia tis Podithou Church, whose interior paintings are said to denote both Byzantine and Italian influences. I was speechless as I looked up and around  ... Our Lady Queen of Heaven 's image imposed itself in a way, but there were quite a few other paintings that exerted a singular fascination, whether it was because of the poignant expressions of those depicted in them or simply the artistic achievement, it was irrelevant.

We soon drove onto the Southwest part of Kalopetria where we came across the cross-shaped stone Church of Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis, whose oldest section is said to date from the 11th century. We had to wait for a while so as to walk into its interior because of a group of tourists. I was dying to see it because its walls were painted over a period of about 500 years, between the 11th and the 15th centuries, which would allow me  to perceive the evolution of the Byzantine wall painting from the early Byzantine "hieratic" and "monastic"through to the Kommenos and Paleologos styles. I was once more mesmerised by a few frescoes ... It was really a pity I couldn't photograph the ones I liked most, so that I could later admire them.

We finally visited the Monastery Ioannis Lampadistis complex which we reached by taking an elevator down from the Kalopanagiotis village located on a mountain slope. In it we visited the oldest of the three churches, dating back from the 11th century and decorated with 12th through to 15th century frescoes, mostly illustrating scenes and key events from the life of Jesus.  I was once more astounded ...

Before having been driven to a fairly close restaurant for a lunch break and as we stood by the side of the road collecting and eating almonds whilst awaiting one of the group members who had left her lamp down at the Monastery I felt we had got the best for last ... and I was not easily coping with such an intensity and depth of feelings ... We would be leaving the following day and I just felt like winding the clock back ...

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