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Agios Joannis in Kerami

The Tragaía, with its many villages, has a particularly large number of Byzantine churches, many of which are decorated with remarkable murals. One of these churches, dedicated to St John, lies right next to the village of Keramí (between Filóti and Chalkí). It is a square domed church with a nave with a narthex on the west side that was added later. The church was restored in 1971/72: the walls were repaired and reinforced where necessary and several arches were removed that had not been part of the original layout.

The church of Ágios Joánnis near Keramí has a roughly square floor plan with a dome and a narthex to the west with a bell gable.

The church has a large, wide apse. The roof is covered with stone tiles.

the interior with the wooden altar wall

The dome, the apse and the arches and walls below the dome are decorated with rich wall paintings from the 13th century, which are still very well preserved in many places.

The Pantocrator is depicted in the dome; the “shield” bearing his image is held by four large angels.

The pantocrator is designed in such a way that he barely seems to fit into the shield, making the painting very impressive. It is very carefully executed, the expression intense. On the edge of the shield runs the usual inscription: “The Lord looked down from heaven on the children of men” (Psalm 14:2).

Only three of the large angels with their outstretched wings and billowing cloaks have survived.

The four evangelists are as usually depicted in the “spandrels” under the dome; here St Mark the Evangelist with writing materials and buildings in the background.

the evangelist John

the evangelist Luke

The arches under the dome are decorated with the heads of saints, prophets and apostles in coloured medallions.

St Euthymios

St Eustratios

St Orestes

the apostle Simon

St Cosmas the Poet

St Barlaam the Prophet

The northern wall under the dome is also richly decorated. At the top left, poorly recognisable, is Christ’s descent into the underworld.

The two Saints Theodore and the Virgin Mary (left) are depicted in the lower section.

The figures are executed with many fine details.

All that remains of the Virgin Mary is her richly decorated dress.

This altar with antique columns stands in the apse. The murals in the apse are mostly destroyed.

Only the hierarchs on the left are recognisable.

ornaments next to the apse

The church of Ágios Joánnis in Keramí is a good example of 13th-century mural art on Naxos, even if not enough has survived to make out the entire composition. The paintings are detailed, carefully and harmoniously executed in strong, pleasant colours. Saints and angels are depicted in a very human and expressive manner. Although some of the themes are somewhat conservative, the execution is very much in keeping with the flourishing ecclesiastical art at the time: Naxos’ wall paintings are in no way inferior to those of the centres of the Byzantine world.

continue: Agios Georgios in Marathos

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Quelle: “Hagios Ioannis at Kerami” von Nicos Zias; in: “Byzantine Art in Greece – Naxos”, editor Manolis Chatzidakis; G. Rayas & Co. G.P. – Melissa Publishing House, 1989, Athens