Early Christian & Byzantine
Byzantine Church of Saints Jason and Sosipater
At a little distance from southern shore of the
Bay of Garitsa
in the suburb of Anemomylos, the site of the ancient city is one
of only two typically Byzantine
churches on the island. This beautiful building, a former monastic church, is
dedicated to Saints Jason, Bishop of Tarsus, and Sosipater, bishop of Iconion
in Asia Minor, who had been disciples of St. Paul and brought Christianity to
Corfu in about 70 A.D. This church, evidences masonry technique and decoration
similar to contemporary churches in Attica and Boeotia. Two eleventh-century
inscriptions framed by dented brick bands are embedded in the wall on either
side of the western door. Frescoes dating from the seventeenth century can be
observed on either side of the main entrance. An elaborately ornate
eighteen-century iconostasis bears on either side of its central door two
full-length icons (dated 1650) which may be attributed to Father Emmanuel
Tzanes. The history of this church is of special interest for its connection
with the wider history of Byzantium and its tragic downfall. The church has
been declared a historical monument and is now under jurisdiction of the
Department of Byzantine Antiquities of Constantinople.
The Early Christian Basilica of Palaeopolis
Opposite the entrance to the estate of Mon
Repos stands ruined church Palaeopolis (of the ancient city). The extant
remains of the church show successive building stages going back to different
periods, especially the twelfth and seventeenth centuries. The building was a
majestic early Christian basilica, with two aisles on each side of the nave
and covered by a timber roof. The church was richly decorated with sculptures
and a mosaic floor, and was one of the largest basilicas in Greece. Building
materials and decorative elements from surrounding buildings and temples were
used for the construction and embellishment of the basilica. Almost all the
marble materials used in basilica come from a Roman odium. Embedded in the
walls of the long sides are eleven marble lion heads of the beginning of the
fourth century B.C. The church is connected with one of the most popular
legends of Corfu, that of St. Kerkyra. She was the daughter of Cercillinus,
the Roman Governor of the island, and was put to death about 70 A.D. on her
father’s orders for having converted to Christianity. According to legend St.
Kerkyra is the guardian of fabulous treasures hidden in the catacombs of the
Convent of the Saints Theodore
stands close to the
temple of Artemis.
St. Theodore the Tiro was a fourth-century soldier who died a martyr in Asia
Minor. The church forms part of an early Christian basilica of which the nave
and the southern aisle still exist. The basilica dates back to the fifth
century. The apse of the sanctuary is intact, and has a trefoil window with
small pillars. The row of cells in the courtyard, with a covered gallery along
their length, is typical Greek monastic architecture of its period.
The Byzantine Church of Pantocrator at
A small Byzantine church dedicated to the
Transfiguration of Christ crowns the tiny islet at the entrance to the lagoon
of Chalikiopoulo opposite Kanoni. It is in shape of a Greek cross with an
octagonal dome in the center, and has one central three-sided apse behind the
altar. It can be dated to the eleventh or twelfth century.
Chapel of Saints Michael and Gabriel
It is situated in the district of Omali
in the northern part of the island, contains some interesting frescoes.
Chapel of Saint Merkouris
This chapel stands below the village Ayios
Markos in a narrow plain. It was built and decorated, according to one of
the two inscriptions in left apse, in 1074-1075 by Nikolaos Drongarios. The
church is of particular interest because it contains the oldest dated frescoes
in Corfu, going back to the eleventh century.
The Church of Pantocrator
distance above the village of
old barrel-vaulted Church of Christ Pantocrator (Lord of the Universe) dating
from 1577. The church is especially interesting for its frescoes most of which
belong to the sixteenth century and which cover the walls almost completely.
Church of St. Nicholas
In the village
on a hill crowned by the small Monastery of St. Elijah, southwest of
the Church of St.
described above, stands the ruined and roofless church dedicated to St.
Nicholas. It is a single-nave basilica dating from Venetian times. The
frescoes are of special interest and date in part from the eleventh to the
fourteenth century and in part from the seventeenth century.
The Church of St. Michael
The Church of
St. Michael, commonly known as St. Michael on the Mountain stands above the
and in its present form is an extension of an older chapel whose long walls
are still intact. The iconostasis dates from the seventeenth or eighteenth
century, and there are also the fragments of eleventh-century frescoes.
Church of St. Nicholas
It is a
single-nave basilica located in the village of
in the western part of the island. It bears on the east wall some interesting
fragments of Byzantine frescoes probably dating from thirteenth century.
Church of St. George
Near the small
a little church with a semi-circular apse is dedicated to St. George. It
stands on the summit of a high and steep hill, which dominates the
bay of Ermones
southwest of the village. The building existed in 1469. In the sanctuary a few
remains of frescoes are still extant. These frescoes belong to the fourteenth
or the first half of fifteenth century.
Church of Saints Michael and Gabriel
It is located
in the village of
at the foot of Mount Ayi Deka and decorated with frescoes dating from
the seventeenth century, containing ancient architectural fragments and early
Church of St. Blaise (Vlasios)
The partly roofless church is situated at a
short distance south of the Church of Saints Michael and Gabriel. It
was enlarged in the seventeenth century and is decorated with Byzantine and
post-Byzantine frescoes. The church ends in a three-sided apse, embellished in
the prosthesis and on the south wall with pointed brick stars.
Church of St. Marina
It is situated not far from the Byzantine
fortress of Gardiki. It contains some frescoes dating back to the
The Church of St. Spyridon
Is situated at the far end of the square of the Ionian Bank, and
is by far the most venerated place of worship on the island. It shelters the
body of St. Spyridon, the patron Saint of Corfu and one of the great Saints of
Greek Orthodoxy, and in consequence draws a constant stream of pilgrims from
all over Greece all the year round. The church was built in 1589, but most of
the decoration, as well as the big bell-tower, were completed a few years
later. It is a single-nave basilica, a type prevalent in Corfu; two white
marble railings, made in Venice in 1852, as recorded in the dedicatory
inscription in Italian, separate the main nave from the raised area in front
of the sanctuary. Imposing silver and gilt lamps and massive chandeliers
presented to the church as pious offerings hang from the ceiling. Number of
icons and paintings by different painters (mentioned in the part ‘Fine
Arts’ of this web site) are also to be seen in this imposing church.
The Orthodox Cathedral of the
Blessed Virgin Spiliotissa
It is situated
in the old quarter of the town facing the square of the
The church was erected in 1577 and it was first built as a single-nave
basilica; the two present side aisles were created by incorporating the
pre-existing narthexes into church in 1841 when it became the Cathedral of
Corfu. A wealth of icons of artistic merit covers the neo-classical
iconostasis and walls. The Greek Orthodox Church proclaimed Theodora a Saint
for her leading role in the reinstatement of the holy images. Her body was
kept in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople and was
brought to Corfu together with the body of St. Spyridon after the fall of that
city in 1453.
The Church of Saint Antony
It is located at the end of Nikiphorou
Theotoki Street and it is one of the oldest and interesting churches in
Corfu, named after the Saints Antony and Andrew. The church is probably the
most ancient ecclesiastical establishment in the old town of Corfu, dating
from the fourteenth century.
At the top of Solomou Street, stands
the Roman Catholic Church. Tenedos Island lies off the Aegean entrance to the
Dardanelles. The church and adjacent monastery was started in 1663. This
church is closed associated with the history of the island. In 1798, the
French established the first public library in Corfu, in the Tenedos
Monastery. The building, housed also the first Greek school in the Ionian
Islands, inaugurated in 1805 by John Capodistrias.
The Church of All Saints (Ayion Panton)
The church stands in All Saints Street
near Esplanade. It belongs to the Butchers’ Guild and is rich in silver
and liturgical vessels; built in 1684 as a single-nave basilica.
The Church of Saint Eleftherios
The small church stands on St. Spyridon
Street; it was first built in 1700. It is the usual single-nave basilica.
Church of St. Catherine
It stands on
the corner of Capodistria and the narrow
St. Catherine Street.
It is a single-nave basilica like almost all the churches in Corfu, and was
built in 1690.
The Monastery of the Blessed Virgin Platytera
It stands between the suburbs of San Rocco
and Mandouki. The church contains a number of icons of high artistic
value. A monk first built it in 1743. The front of the monastery church is
decorated with six pilasters. The interior is divided into the nave, a
narthex, and the sanctuary. The icons are representative Italian work of
eighteenth-century style. The ceiling is divided into eleven compartments,
decorated with icons within gilt frames. John Capodistrias, is at the rest
under a simple slab of white marble, in a covered space behind the sanctuary,
along with other members of his family and other eminent Corfiots, among whom
is also the historian Andreas Moustoxydis.
The Monastery of Mount Pantocrator
It is situated on the island’s highest peak
Pantocrator (906 m). The monastery church was built in the year 1347,
during the rule of the Angevins. The Baroque iconostasis is of the late
eighteenth century and the frescoes on the walls are of the seventeenth
Monastery of the Blessed Virgin
It stands on a rocky promontory on the west coast of the island in the village
According to tradition a monk built the monastery in the thirteenth century.
It now consists of the church in the center, surrounded by an extremely
picturesque complex of courtyards, rows of monks’ cells, oil-presses,
archways, store-rooms, abbot’s quarters and by an open terrace and a garden on
the south side of the church, from which the view sweeps on a magnificent
panorama of rocks, hills and an open sea. An elegant bell tower in the typical
local style is attached to the church at its northwest corner closing the main
courtyard on that side. The church is a single-nave basilica with a masonry
iconostasis of no great distinction. The Monastery Museum housed in a room off
the main courtyard contains a small but interesting collection if icons as
well as sundry memorabilia.
STAMATOPOULOS, N.: Old
K. Mihalas s.a., Athens, 1993
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