Agia Kyriaki near Apiranthos

A particularly interesting Byzantine monument is the small church of Ágia Kyriakí north of Apiranthos. It dates from the 9th century AD, the time of the iconoclasm. Fortunately, in recent years the building has been restored (from the outside and the inside) at the initiative of the Cultural Association of Apiranthos as a collaboration of Swiss Byzantinologists and the Greek Byzantine Association. Since then it is – regrettably but understandably – locked, so that one can’t see the inside any more.

A beautiful hiking trail leads from Apiranthos to the church of Ágia Kyriakí and further to the emery mines.

The small church is located north of Apiranthos on the hill, which can be seen approximately in the middle of the picture.

It lies above an old, picturesque olive grove.

The small building with two naves dates from the 9th century.

View from the south; On the left you can see the transverse porch lying on the west side of the building, which was supposed to protect the entrance facing the west from the evil powers coming from there.

The western porch from the inside; to the right the original entrance to the church is visible.

The original entrance is built of very large stone blocks.

Note the illumination of the interior of the church through a few, small window gaps: It seems as if the domes were illuminated from below.

The inside of the church is decorated with remarkable murals from the time of the iconoclasm.

During this time, no saints were depicted, but the churches were decorated mainly with non-figurative ornaments.

These photos were taken before the restauration of the church. Now the very old, rare murals are cleaned and preserved as best as possible.

The walls of the sanctuary show a number of cocks. This is a very unusual decoration. Similar figures are known only from one or two churches in the Middle East.

The cocks carry strange scarves.

Here the smaller, southern nave.

In the dome of the sanctuary of the southern nave images of saints have been preserved; they date from a later time after the iconoclasm.

The rarity and great importance of several of the small rural churches of Naxos lies not only in their very old origin, but also in the fact that they have hardly been changed since the time of their consctruction, so that the original architecture and the often very old and remarkable murals are preserved (unfortunately today they are mostly in a bad shape and in high need of restauration).

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