"Monuments of Byzantine Art in Acheloos"

The surviving monasteries of Acheloos, sunken and threatened by diversion ...
The monastery complex of Ag. Georgiou at Myrofyllo. It includes three churches, George, the Virgin Mary and the Chapel of the Taxiarches, arched cells, and the tower and tower. They will immerse themselves in the waters of the artificial lake Sykia, which is built for the deflection of Acheloos. Along with the buildings will be lost the unique frescoes of Samarinian painters Athanasius and Georgiou who adorn the katholikon from 1869.The monastery complex of Ag. Georgiou at Myrofyllo. It includes three churches, George, the Virgin Mary and the Chapel of the Taxiarches, arched cells, and the tower and tower. They will immerse themselves in the waters of the artificial lake Sykia, which is built for the deflection of Acheloos. Along with the buildings will be lost the unique frescoes of Samarinian painters Athanasius and Georgiou who adorn the katholikon from 1869.
Acheloos, who in mythology was God, in the ancient historical years the wealthy landlord in Byzantine becomes a viewer of war conflicts, peaceful performances, functions and celebrations in churches and monasteries on one side or the other. From Early Christian times to 1821, along 220 kilometers of the great river, Early Christian basilicas, temples and monasteries, episcopal and metropolitan churches, humble parish buildings, and wildernesses were built.

Following Acheloos on the never-ending journey of his water body, from the springs to the estuary, and studying the ecclesiastical architecture and painting that develops during times of artistic flourishing or decay, you feel that you are studying the early Christian, Byzantine and post-Byzantine art throughout greatness or tragedy, respectively.

the narthex of the katholikonThe katholikon splint
Το ποτάμι μοιράζονται τρία μεγάλα και ιστορικά διαμερίσματα της χώρας μας: η Θεσσαλία, η Ήπειρος και η Αιτωλοακαρνανία. Η τελευταία έχει τη μερίδα του λέοντος. Έτσι, καθώς βυζαίνει την Πίνδο, στο διάβα του μεγαλώνει και αντρειεύει. Περνά κοντά από το γοητευτικό και απόμερο μοναστήρι του Τιμίου Προδρόμου στην Κρανιά Καλαμπάκας, χαιρετά το τραγικό μοναστήρι του Αγίου Γεωργίου στο Μυρόφυλλο Τρικάλων, σιγομουρμουρίζει στην Αγία Παρασκευή στο Χαλίκι και περηφανεύεται για τους καπετάνιους – αφιερωτές της ιστορικής Μονής Σέλτσου. Ύστερα, καμαρωτός και περήφανος, καθώς ο Ίναχος, ο Ταυρωπός, ο Αγραφιώτης, ο Κρικελιώτης τον ποτίζουν με υδάτινους τόνους, μπαίνει, από την ορεινή μεριά των ευρυτανικων Αγράφων, στη βαρυφορτωμένη μνήμες και ιστορία αιτωλοακαρνανική γη.

The element of history and art is presented at every step of the modern Greek, as Nikos Petrou notes in his own way, writing about Acheloos with the passion and the passion of the explorer: "By searching for Acheloos I realized I would not I had to make a trip in space but also in time ".
a view of the interior of the catholic revealing the frescoed wealth that extends to the smallest niche of the temple.

Αview of the interior of the Catholic revealing of the frescoes that extends to the smallest conch
of the temple.
Inevitably, one remembers today the mythical struggle of Hercules with Acheloos when he visited the village of Myrofyllo Trikalon. He will meet the restless and upbeat quiet residents of the Thessalian village and the scientists who come from the region to struggle and resist protest conferences, brochures and publications. Their monastery, the historic monastery of Agios Georgios with its three churches, Agios Georgios, Panagia and the Chapel of the Taxiarches, will be immersed in the waters of the artificial lake in front of the Sykia Dam, built for the notorious diversion of Acheloos .

The three temples, the arched cells, the patron saint, the tower, the characteristic frescoes of the Catholic by the Samaritan painters Athanasios and George of the year 1869 will flood and disappear. In vain, the folklore professor Dimitris Raptis strives for their salvation. The great river is ruthless and takes revenge from man. The story is also repeated. Any philistine and philanthropist descends lower to the parts of Akarnania will encounter the same tragic phenomenon. When a boat crosses the waters of the artificial lake of Kastraki, it will see, a few meters below the surface, the famous temple of Panagia Prevenzas standing on the seabed. The 1969 area was flooded by the waters of the dam that formed Lake Kastraki and along with others, the elegant temple was submerged. Built by the Despotate of Epirus, it dates back to 13 century, and had a wonderful ceramic decoration on the eastern side where it also has a five-pointed ceramics inscription with the names of the masons. Fortunately, the outstanding art frescoes have been abandoned and patiently waiting for the founding of the Byzantine Museum of Agrinio to be exhibited.


Built at the edge of the cliff, hundreds of meters above the river, uninhabited between the slopes, the monastery of the Goddess of God, known as Celtso, dates back to 1698.

Built on the edge of the cliff, hundreds of meters above the river, uninhabited between the slopes of the Monastery of God, known as the Celtsus monastery, dates back to 1698.
As Acheloos flows in the area of ​​Arta, it passes by and from the Assumption Monastery of Celtsos. On a steep slope above the river, opposite the village of Petroto and with access from the village of Piges, there is the monastery from 1697. The katholikon of the Virgin, one-storied, with semi-circular arches of the north and south, of the Athonian type and the vaulted narthex, is depicted with frescoes painted by 1698 the "sinner Nicholas, the priest of Arta". In addition to the usual iconography program (in five zones of Pantokrator, Despotic and Theotrical scenes, Aquatic hymns, crowns, whole saints) in the eastern dance are depicted, in an original, unique and graceful composition, the captains Nikos and Apostolis. They act like a temple maker, they wear their formal uniforms with mansion hats and carry haloes as saints. 0 priest and painter were treated with the above. The fearless captains preferred the haloes to "the relief of many mistakes." So they managed to go through history as famous warriors, but not as saints.

Close to the village of Mastrou, the temple of Ag. Ioannis of Episkopi built on the main aisle of a large early Christian basilica. This temple must have been the seat of the bishop of Acheloos, who flourished in the late middle ages and whose few traces are lost around 1360.
Dioceses

The great river, however, as it rushes downwards, continues to devour the works of art. It is not far away today the artificial lake Kremastas Episkopi of Evritania, a pioneering and transitional arts architecture, which, in the third phase of the 13 century, is painted with "high quality frescoes", as Manolis Hatzidakis noted that he was interested in storing these frescoes and 1976 to expose them to Athens by caring for themselves and the catalog.


The Bishopric of Evritania, and the Eparchy of Mastra, near the estuary of Acheloos - a Nile with a paleo-Christian and Byzantine phase - bring to the forefront the double problem: the Acheloos bishopric and the city of Acheloos. For the Acheloos bishopric, as well as the homonymous city, little information was saved. The scholars propose different seismic sites as the headquarters of the diocese, such as the Diocese of Evrytania, Episkopi Mastrou, Aggelokastro, Aetolikos, the Two Churches of Stamna. The diocese refers to Tactical Leo F "of the Wise, to Nikolaos Secret and to Konstantinos Porfyrogennetos. 0 Kantakouzenos and Gregoras report the city. So far, the scientific controversy opened between the story-book Gerasimos Papatreas and the Byzantinologist Sotiris Kissas - which unfortunately left us both close - remains open and the research continues by Professor Fotis Katsaros and Kostas Triantafyllidis. The Acheloos battle, dating back to 1358 / 59, between Nikephoros II's Despotate of Epirus and the Albanians of Karolos Tópia. 0's army of Nikephoros is crushed and he is arrested and killed: "When you come to Acheloon and war against the Albanians, he is detained by them and is revoked ..."


At the edge of Acheloos, in the plain, between the villages of Parchelotida Othia and Kypseli, a huge basilica with a baptistery is ruined. On the arch is built a newest chapel, Ai Giorgis Kissostis. The entire riverside area up to Lake Ozero is strewn with shells, bricks, marble fragments and building foundations. The archaeologists P. Lazaridis and S. Alexandropoulou, who carried out superficial research at the beginning of 1960, remained with the impression that in this endless ruin Acheloos must be sought.
The temple of Ag. Ioannis Rigana is cruciform with a dome and dated to 1815. It is located by the lake of Kastraki a little northerly from the Spoletas bridge.

The temple of Ag. Ioannis Rigana is cruciform with a dome and dated to 1815. It is located by the lake of Kastraki a little northerly from the Spoletas bridge.
A series of excellent monuments, byzantine and post-Byzantine, are recorded in the great plain of Aetolia and Akarnania. Southeast of the great river and as far as Patraikos stretches the vast plain of Aetolia, while in the northwest the lands of Akarnania to Amvrakikos. 0 is blessed with the seven lakes and the three rivers (Acheloos, Evinos, Megdovas). 0 Acheloos in the ancient times separated the Aitolians from the Akarnans. Today it joins them with the great bridge under the ruins of the walled capital of Akarnania Stratou. Next to it, when on one side and on the other side, the journey of the Christian monuments accompanies it. Overlooking the artificial lake of the Kremastas, Agios Andreas the Hermit is overlooking the cave's hill.

It is the famous cave-ascetic, where, in the first half of the 13 century, he exercised the name of the area of ​​the area called Andreas the Hermit. The cave has a small width and height and a great depth. At a distance of twelve meters from the opening, there is a built-in conch, which in combination with a junior iconostasis create the sanctuary space. The conch hosts a magnificent Platytera and the forms of four hierarchs who collaborate, the Saints Basil, Chrysostom, Athanasius and Surface of Cyprus. Platytera is separated from the hierarchs by a strip of brown, on which an allegorical text is written. A careful reading of the text reveals a Japanese poem originally attributed to the Byzantine poet Manuel Filis (1275-1345), but belonging to Konstantinos Michael Psellos (1018-1078). The content of the poem is a hymn to the Virgin Mary. This classical and great art belongs to the 14 century.


It is amazing that a renowned ascetic is practicing in an isolated ascetic cave, with a companion to the sky, mountain Kanala and Acheloos. The large river, in its present form, acquired a different physiognomy due to the artificial lakes that were created. All these changes were followed by Aghios Ioannis the Riganas of Soliates from the hillside, near the iron bridge. A simple, stylish, stone-built inset built in 1815. So is St. George in the Byzantine fortress of Aggelokastro, on the one hand, and the monastery of Pantokrator, on the other. The river in the valley flows bluntly among them, giving the mark of its presence.
In the estuary

Ωσπου, ύστερα από το μακρύ ταξίδι του, βγαίνει στον υδροβιότοπο των εκβολών του Αχελώου. Εκεί γύρω εντοπίζουμε τον βυζαντινό ναό του Λεσινίου (Παλαιοκατούνας), του τέλους του 13ου αιώνα, το μοναστήρι της Παναγίας της Λεσινιώτισσας, της εποχής της Τουρκοκρατίας, τους Ταξιάρχες Γουριάς με θαυμάσιες τοιχογραφίες του 16ου αιώνα. Βέβαια κορυφαίο μνημείο στην παραχελωίτιδα περιοχή αποτελεί η Επισκοπή Μάστρου.

The name, the magnificent appearance, the size and the position of the impressive church are in favor of the view expressed by Kirsten, Konstas, Kissas, Katsaros that this should be the seat of Bishop Acheloos and reject the positions suggested by Heuzey (Occupation), Pouqueville (Angelokastro), Nicol (Aetolikos) and Papathechas (Two Churches of Stamas). Historical and archaeological research, literary sources and archives do not promote the revelation of the truth and the elucidation of the case.


0 alone is the great river because he has seen so much and he has known more through the centuries. But he is silent. Ambition transfers tons of water constantly and empties them into the Sea where the Echinades islands. He was never interested in human curiosity. People continue to look and look in the past. The river never turns back.


By Athanasios Paliouras

Professor of Byzantine Archeology at the University of Ioannina

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