Agios Nikolaos, Karitena


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The church of Agios Nikolaos is located on the northwest outskirts of Karitena. It is a cross-in-square complex four columned church with a modern narthex attached to the west. Three three-sided apses protrude at its eastern part.

The arms of the cross are covered by semicircular barrel vaults, while the rectagular corner bays are covered by small domes. Due to this feature the momument is ascribed to the rate architectural variant of the five-domed churches. A wooden 19th century templon screen separates the sanctuary from the nave.

Its structural and morthological features indicate that the church was erected in the early 18th century. The church of Agios Nikolaos is one of the most important post-Byzantine monuments of the region and related to the prosperity of the town during the 17th and 18th centuries.

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The interior of the church is entirely covered with paintings dating to the period between the second and third decade of the 18th century. The wall paintings are attributed to the famous painters' workshop of Michael and Peter Pediotes.

The iconographic programme does not deviate from the post-Byzantine standards: the bust of Christ Pantocrator is represented at the dome; the Virginn enthroned with the Christ child is depicted in the conch of the central apse, while scenes from the life cyce of Christ are represented on the vaults.

The depiction of Ainoi with the zodiac cycle decorates the vault of the south arm of the cross and deserves special attention. The upper parts of the piers supporting the dome and the vaults are decorated with minature Martyrdom scenes.

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The church suffered serious problems which demanded urgent action. The scientific staff of the 25th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities conducted a specialised study to treat the problems.

The project "Restoration of the Church of Agios Nikolaos in Karitena, Prefecture of Arkadia"was included in the Priority Axis "08 - Sustainable Development and Quality of Life of the Peloponnese" of the Regional Operational Programme "Western Greece - Peloponnese - Ionain Islands 2007 - 2013" with a budget of 300,000.00 euros

The project was implemented under the auspices of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Messinia during the period between November 2014 and May 2015. The main goal of the project was the structural and morphological restoration of the building and included the following tasks:

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Landscaping works were also carried out and included the rebuilding of a retaining wall to the west side of the church in order to enhance the monument.

Unfortunately I could not enter the church to take interior photographs as I could not find anyone with access to a key, but I shall return and try again!!