|The Church of St. Nicholas in Kourtaliotis Gorge, Crete|
|Piles of stones beside St. Nicholas Church|
The smallness of country churches in Greece was a surprise to me; it reminded me of the North Carolina mountains where there are so many small churches in close proximity to each other. Of course, they, too, were probably built before modern means of transportation. In contrast, there are so many huge, medieval churches in western Europe, even deep in the countryside.
|A typical memorial erected among the orange groves of Crete|
One time Cindy (she lives in Shanghai and was also on the lookout for great photos) & I came upon an abandoned church, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. We both took pictures, but I wanted to check out the inside. It looked to be Middle Byzantine in style and my guess was that it came from the 12th century. She went on, but I tried to check out the inside.
|A 14th century church between the villages of Koufos and Alikianos|
On the outside of the church, there was also fresco of Mary in the arch over a side door. This painting in the tympanum was badly damaged, but I took a picture (below). It also had painted trim directly under the arch in a beautiful red and blue pattern.
|A badly damaged fresco of Mary over the door dates |
to the 14th century
On the lintel below, there is a red cross. Of course, it's never a good idea to paint the outside of a building and expect the image to stand up to time and weather.
Zoohodos Pigi means "life giving source."
|Zoohodos Pigi means "life giving source."|
The frescoes could have inspired Greece's greatest artist, El Greco, who grew up in Crete, with this tradition. No one knows exactly where El Greco was born, but his family was from Chania and this church is about 10-20 miles away. I'm also reminded that these paintings were done about the same time or only slightly later than when Giotto was doing amazing things with frescoes in Italy.
Not far away, we had already passed a town called Alikianos where there was large new Greek Orthodox church, light blue and terra cotta in color. So it's easy to understand why a church in the middle of nowhere isn't in use, but I hope that the Church of Zoohodos Pigi will be restored.
|There's a new Greek Orthodox church in the village of Alikianos|
|The Goats' lunch -- so good!|