Arta: The Byzantine-era Church of the Parigoritissa is being restored - See the photos

Church of the Parigoritissa arta

An important Byzantine monument, the Church of the Parigoritissa in Arta, is on the way to restoration with all the studies prepared since already completed.

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The architectural study concerns the improvement of the monument in terms of its original bearing capacity.

In summary, on the ground floor, the plasters that remain inside the building are planned to be removed. The floor is restored to the same form after the required static interventions.

The metal access ladder to the floor is removed, and a new one is constructed in the same place. In the main Church, on the external surfaces, the restoration of the worn and inferior joints is foreseen so that the structural elements of the monument are not deformed.

Internally, local reinforcements of failed capitals and columns are provided. From the roofs, the tile coverings of the five domes and the antennae of the cruciform cover, as well as the drum pedestal of the central dome, are removed.

A "pavement" is planned around the perimeter of the surrounding area to protect the monument's base from rain. The oldest, currently buried Church and the entrance to the underground gallery, in the same place, will be excavated and brought to light.

The portico walls will be fixed, and the existing access path from the northeast entrance of the archaeological site will be fixed, according to the plans, to make it safe for disabled access.

The static study includes interventions at points of failure, with local reinforcements, at the foundation levels, ground floor, attic, roof, ceiling and the main Church. The electromechanical study includes the electrical study of the installation of a lighting network (operational, security and highlighting), the study of security systems (alarm, closed circuit television network), water supply study (water supply network design), and the study of active protection measures (fire safety with forecast preventive measures, fire extinguishing means in case of fire).

Church of the Parigoritissa

Referring to the important history of the monument, the Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni noted: "From the 13th century, Arta became an important centre of the Byzantine world, as the capital of the Despotate of Epirus, an independent state, founded after the capture of Constantinople, by the Crusaders, in 1204.

"The founder of the Despotate was Michael I Komnenos Doukas. In 1231, his nephew, Michael II Komnenos Doukas, took over the government and carried out a large and expensive building project in Arta. It is possible that he was also the founder of the Monastery and the builder of the first phase of the Church of the Parigoritissa, which is a major Byzantine monument with a prominent place in the history of art.

"At the end of the 13th century, the administration of the Despotate of Epirus was taken over by Nikephoros I Komnenos Doukas, who, with his wife, Anna Palaiologina, a relative of the Palaiologos of Constantinople, expanded the state and inaugurated a series of projects, among them the second and most important phase of the Comforter.

"In our research in 2021, as twenty years had already passed since the fixing works were implemented by the services of the Ministry of Culture, we found the need to launch restoration works to protect and highlight the monument immediately. We are now in a position to include the conservation and restoration work of the monument in the current programming period 2021-2027.

"The intended interventions are primarily aimed at fixing and protecting it, upgrading its form and internal arrangement, and improving accessibility to this unique monument."

Most likely, the Church of the Parigoritissa was built as a Katholikon of a large monastery. A series of one-story cells survive, which can be dated almost at the same time as the Katholikon. Also, part of the original Bank of the Monastery is preserved and restored to its current form during the work of Orlando, together with the cells and the Katholikon, in the 1960s.

The main Church is of a peculiar and unique typology, as the lower level shows the layout of the octagonal church and the cruciforms inscribed on the floor. The church is housed in the centre, with a large twelve-sided dome and four smaller eight-sided ones at the corners of the roof.

The main Church has a square plan and a tower-like shape. It ends to the east in three three-sided arches, of which the middle one is higher and reaches the height of the roof.

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The entrance to the church is from the west side, where a semicircular staircase leads to the narthex. The sculptural decoration of the monument shows diversity and originality, mainly due to the arches of the arches that support the dome.

The Church originally had a marble iconostasis, which was destroyed during the Turkish occupation. The church also had mosaics that decorated the dome.

The mosaics date from the late 13th century. In the sanctuary and on the walls of the ground floor of the main Church, there are frescoes, which were made at different times after the destruction of the orthomarbling that originally decorated the Church. The walls of the main Church are currently covered with frescoes made in two overlapping layers.

Few traces can be seen of the frescoes on the first layer, which were probably made at the same time as those of the sanctuary. The frescoes of the second and newer layers that decorate the ground floor walls are better preserved. The frescoes of the main church are not dated.

The frescoes of the second layer date back to the second half of the 17th century. In the iconostasis, the frescoes of the oldest layer must be contemporary, with the illustration of the sanctuary in the 16th century. The frescoes of the full-length saints belong in the second layer, which shows several similarities with the frescoes of the main Church.

READ MORE: Dig at Ancient Greek Temple Reveals Animal Sacrifices and More.

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