The small but intersting Byzantine church of Agios Nikolaos is located below the road from Skadhó to Komiakí, the northernmost of the mountain villages of Naxos. Komiakí lies on the edge of a large fertile and lush valley.
View of Komiaki, in the foreground you can see the church of Agios Nikolaos.
the small Byzantine church of Agios Nikolaos
This area of Naxos has a character of its own: Even in summer clouds often form on the mountains, and in winter the whole area ist frequently shrouded with a dense cloud layer. We visit the Troúllo in mid-September and stand in the fog!
The village of Komiakí with dense clouds, seen from below.
About halfway from Skadhó to Komiakí the mountain bends towards the north forming a protrusion called “Troúllos” (dome). This whole hillside is overgrown with wild scrub or forest that is in some places nearly impenetrable. The road is shaded over by mighty plane trees. Shortly before the plane trees a sign by the roadside “Βυζαντινός Ναός Άγιου Νικολάου” marks the path to the church.
The narrow path leads through a small grove of special charm. On the day of our visit, the picturesque trees and the dense, green undergrowth seem almost enchanted in the mist.
The path to the church is partly overgrown with blackberries, but don’t give up. At a fork you have to turn left. After one or two bends, the forest becomes less dense and the path leads past vineyards that are still in use. And then there it is suddenly, next to a vineyard, the little church of Ágios Nikólaos.
the small single-naved church of Ágios Nikólaos
The interior of the church is only about 5 meters long and 1.5 meters wide. It is built as a simple barrel vault without a dome. The sanctuary is not separated by an iconostasis, but by a simple pillar with two small arches on the sides. In the apse and under the vault old murals are preserved. Unfortunaly they have severely suffered from the moisture in the building, especially on the southern wall.
view of the interior of the church with the murals under the vault, the sanctuary separated by a pillar with arches and the simple apse
On the left side of the church the murals depict Candlemas, the “Presentation” of Jesus Christ forty days after his birth in the Temple of Jerusalem before the two Elders Simeon and Hanna.
At the back of the church we see the Ascension of Jesus.
The apses are adorned with Jesus in the middle and mother Mary and John Prodromus on the sides.
The murals in the church Ágios Nikólaos date from the beginning of the 14th century AD, that is from the late Byzantine period. The pictures are rather simple with strong lines and intense orange-reddish colors. The background is gray blue. Noteworthy is the unusual design of the eyes with a straight lower edge and pointed ends, which is more characteristic of the style used in Western areas of Europe. Perhaps a Venetian influence can be seen here: Naxos was under Venetian rule already since 1207 AD (It is interesting to note that, conversely, for the same epoch a significant Byzantine influence can also be detected in Italian church paintings).
the representation of Christ in the apse
John Prodromus; note the unusual design of the eyes with a straight lower edge