Culture

Hosios Loukas

The church complex of St. Loukas – Hosios Loukas – in Phokis is the largest and also the best preserved 11th-century monastery complex in Greece and a monument on the UNESCO Worldwide Heritage List. It lies on the slopes of Mount Helikon, opposite Parnassos.

Mosaic Decoration – Hosios Loukas.The basic source of information for Hosios Loukas and his monastery is the Life composed by an anonymous disciple a few years after his death. According to this, the saint was a monk in the region of Central Greece. In 946/7 he settled on the present site of the monastery, where he founded an informal monastic community and lived until his death at the age of 56, in 953. His great talents were his miraculous ability to heal the faithful and his capacity to prophesy the future – skills that were conducive to his having close relationships with outstanding figures in the aristocracy of Thebes. General Krinites founded a church in the name of Saint Barbara in 946, during the lifetime of the saint. Continue reading Hosios Loukas

Parthenon

The Parthenon, dedicated by the Athenians to Athena Parthenos, the patron of their city, is the most magnificent creation of Athenian democracy at the height of its power. It is also the finest monument on the Acropolis in terms of both conception and execution. Built between 447 and 438 BC, as part of the greater Periklean building project, this so-called Periklean Parthenon (Parthenon III) replaced an earlier marble temple (Parthenon II), begun after the victory at the battle of Marathon at approximately 490 BC and destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. This temple had replaced the very first Parthenon (Parthenon I) of c. 570 BC. The Periklean Parthenon was designed by architects Iktinos and Kallikrates, while the sculptor Pheidias supervised the entire building program and conceived the temple’s sculptural decoration and chryselephantine statue of Athena.

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Constantinople

O land of Byzantium, o thrice blessed city, thou center of the earth, jewel of the universe, far-beaming star, lamp of the nether world … ”

Konstantinos Manasses: “Οδοιπορικόν” (12th century)

Constantinople, the capital of an ecumenical empire, was the Imperial City where the Emperor of the Romans, as well as the ecumenical patriarch, had his seat. It was the heart and the symbol of the empire and its fall marked its end.

The city’s origin is traced to Greek antiquity, when, according to legend, Byzas from Megara founded it in the 7th century BC. The Roman emperor Septimius Severus restored it and the first Christian emperor, Constantine, inaugurated the New Rome on 11 May 330.

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Hagia Sophia

– Chora, Pammakaristos and the Church of Saints Sergius & Bacchus, notable churches of Constantinople 

The Church of Divine Wisdom – Hagia Sophia – has a place among the greatest architectural masterpieces of the world. Through the ages the church has undergone many changes and alterations, but nothing can ruin the awe and magic that visitors feel.

The church was inaugurated in 537 under the Emperor Justinian. In the Frankish period, Hagia Sophia was converted into a Roman Catholic Church. After 1453 it served as mosque, eventually being turned into a museum in 1935. The buttresses, that were added to support the massive building, have altered the outer shape partially, as have the added minarets and mausoleums.

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The Byzantine Icon

– A Window to the Soul

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” – the opening words of Scripture. In many of the prayers of the Christian Church, including the Nicene Creed, God is designated as the Creator of the visible and the invisible. This polarity – heaven and earth, visible and invisible, body and soul, matter and spirit – is a basic duality that is central to the Christian faith. The visible body, anchored on earth in matter, longs for liberation to attain the invisible heaven and the realm of the spirit.

Pantocrator Icon, Greek, Temple Gallery, London.
Pantocrator Icon, Greek, Temple Gallery, London.

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