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Agios Panteleimonas in Lakkomersina

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.

It is a low, two-aisled church without a dome, with a porch to the west, which results in a curious, almost square building.

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.

the east front with the rather small apses

Like so many other small Byzantine churches hidden in some valley of the island, Ágios Panteleímonas shows significant wall paintings: 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 at three different layers of painting, with the one on top, the most recent one, looking much more sophisticated than the ones 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.

Here is another figure of a saint (on the southern wall); it looks as if two small figures are standing next to her head, the right one stretching out its hand towards the saint.

The halo of this saint is decorated with small round stamps – one of the few examples on the island.

The curious church of Ágios Panteleímonas with its beautiful murals is certainly a monument worthy of protection. It shows the importance of even 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, it can only be hoped that funds will be found and interest raised so that they can be restored sufficiently to be protected against the ravages of time.

continue: Joannis Theologos Kaminiou near Kalandos

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