Southeast of Apíranthos, between the road to Moutsoúna and the road from Danakós to the coast, lies a valley called Lakkomérsina. When we explored that area in November 2011, we discovered a small Byzantine church on the adjacent slope and followed a small footpath to visit it.
View over the valley of Lakkomérsina with mount Zeus in the background. The church of Agios Panteleímonas is located approximately in the middle of the picture.
Here you can see the small Byzantine church.
It is a low, two-aisled church without a dome, with a porch to the west, which results in a curious, almost square building.
On the way to the church we met a shepherd who showed us the path to the church. He tied his dog before that and informed us that it may bite; so I don’t know how advisable it is to go to this church on your own.
Here you can see the southern nave and the transversal porch, which lies in front of the northern nave.
As is typical of most small old rural churches, the roof of this church is covered with stone slabs.
Like most churches on Naxos, Ágios Panteleímonas is rather negligently built. These simple small churches are of special interest because – apart from natural decay – they are usually almost entirely in their original, centuries-old state, that is, they have never been reconstructed or renewed.
Like so many other small Byzantine churches hidden in some valley of the island, Ágios Panteleímonas also shows some significant murals: The southern nave is adorned with extensive but (unfortunately!) rather poorly preserved murals.
Part of this figure has been covered with a cloth to protect it from decay. All of these churches have been visited and mapped by Byzantinologists. Unfortunately, however, exactly because of their large number, it is impossible for all churches to get the restauration they need so urgently.
Parts of the walls are adorned with ornaments.
Here one can see three different layers of painting, with the one on top, the most recent one, looking much more sophisticated than the two below.
The nave is decorated on both sides with a series of standing saints. Unfortunately most are not in a very good condition.
These figures are in a better state. Note the garments decorated with beautiful, carefully painted details.
The murals of this church date to the 13th century, so it is one of the older churches of the island.
The curious church of Ágios Panteleímonas with its beautiful murals is certainly a monument worthy of protection. It shows the importance even of the more remote areas of the island during the Middle Ages: It is truly remarkable that at that time, shortly after the Venetians had conquered the island, a small church located so far from the villages would be decorated with so elaborate murals.
As with all these churches, one hopes that funds will be found and interest raised so that they can be restored sufficiently to be protected against the ravages of time.