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Agios Andreas at Apano Kastro

On the hiking trail from Potamiá to Apáno Kástro, one passes by a very small but pretty church dedicated to St Andreas. It is a single-nave church without a dome with wall arcades (“blind” arches on the wall); several phases of alteration to the building can be recognised. Of interest to us are the wall paintings in the apse, some of which are quite well preserved; they date from the 14th century.

The small church of Agios Andreas is located just before the hill of Apáno Kástro on the hiking trail from Potamiá.

It is a single-nave church without a dome, a type that was quite common on Naxos during the years of Venetian rule.

Inside, you can see the wall arcades (“blind arches”) and the apse decorated with murals. A stone altar stands in front of the apse.

The Eucharist is depicted in the lower part of the apse wall. On the left you can see two hierarchs with the typical white robes and scrolls.

Here the two hierarchs on the right-hand side. In the centre between the hierarchs stands the altar with a bowl for the bread and a chalice for the wine.

As usual, Christ is depicted in the half-dome of the apse. Unfortunately, this mural is in poor condition. Normally, in the apse of Naxiotic churches, there is a depiction of Deesis with Christ as the recipient of the prayers and petitions of the faithful and Mary as the intercessor on the left and St John the Baptist on the right.

the head of Christ, badly preserved

Only Christ’s hands are clearly recognisable. The right hand does not show the usual blessing posture of deesis, but rather the posture that is assumed in depictions of the Last Judgement, in which Christ separates the good from the bad – a special form of deesis.

Christ is holding a book in his left hand, which is also an indication that he appears here in the function of judge, not as the one who blesses: the “Book of Life” is depicted in his left hand, in which those who will enter the kingdom of heaven are listed (according to the Revelation of John).

To the right and left of the apse, on the wall with the apse, stand two figures of saints; however, neither is particularly well preserved. Here is the figure on the left.

here the saint on the right side

The hierarchs are very impressive and quite well preserved.

Among other things, the scroll could read: “to mysterion to agion” (= the Holy Sacrament).

Barefoot figures are depicted on the north wall, of which only the legs are preserved. The figure on the left is standing between rocks; the one on the right has fish painted around the feet, the horizontal lines could indicate water. It appears to be a depiction of the baptism of Christ.

Here a view of the church from behind; you can see the beautifully shaped apse. The masonry of the church is carefully executed and in a good shape. The front part of the nave was at some point raised by building a new, steeper vaulted roof. The rear part looks as if it has been extended compared to the original version; the church also appears to have been enlarged towards the north.

A small but beautiful church that you should definitely have a look at if you happen to pass by! The murals are so similar to the paintings in the church of Saint George in Sifones that it seems certain that they were made by the same artist.

continue: Panagia Liouriotissa in Marathos

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