Agios Mamas near Potamia
Near Káto Potamiá lies an interesting church dedicated to Ágios Mámas, the patron saint of shepherds. It dates back to the 10th century and was used as an episcopal church by the island’s Catholic bishop during the Venetian period; there is also a larger building nearby that served as the bishop’s residence and is called the “Bishop’s Palace”. Both buildings are poorly preserved and are no longer in use.
The church seen from the east side; the apse has partially collapsed; the arch behind it has been rebuilt, as can be seen from the new stones and the new mortar.
The church is built (as is typical for Orthodox churches) as a cruciform domed church, to which two transverse porches (narthices) were later added in the west. These were intended to ward off evil, which was thought to come from the west.
Because of the narthices, the main entrance to the church is to the west and north; it is surmounted by the bell gable, which is therefore also to the north and not opposite the apse at the entrance on the west front, as is usually the case.
In many places, stones of an (unknown) ancient building were used in the construction of the church.
The church building is particularly tall; it is probably the church with the highest interior that I know of on Naxos.
view up to the dome
For the most part, unhewn field stones found on site were used in the construction of this church, as well as marble stones from an ancient building (temple?), especially at the corners and in other “difficult” places such as the arches. In addition, as in many other Byzantine churches and Venetian buildings, there are strange porous stones of a greenish, reddish or grey colour, which appear to be of volcanic origin and could possibly have come from Santorini.
Here you can see several antique marble blocks next to the door frames.
This ancient stone shows signs of being worked with a chisel.
This stone is only roughly hewn with a hammer and chisel; the edge is somewhat finer made.
Two more ancient stones with characteristic chiseling; a cross was carved into the lower one when it was built into the church.
The church is plastered; the existence of wall paintings can be detected underneath the plaster in some places.
On this wall, which has not been plastered, a faint and poorly preserved figure of a saint is visible.
The church is now derelict; here is the only evidence of its use: in a small niche there is an icon and oil bottles for an oil lamp.
View from the church to the east. The valley of Potamiá is one of the most fertile areas of the island of Naxos with a river that has water all year round; in the background on the left you can see the course of the river with plane trees and willows accompanying it; on the right there are a few elms in a damp valley, a very rare tree on Naxos.
Not far to the west of the church is the dilapidated building of the former bishop’s residence.
- Sights and monuments
- Churches and monasteries
- The history of Naxos
- Naxos in the Byzantine era
- The Byzantine churches of Naxos
- The Byzantine murals