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Agios Nikolaos Orphanos church

Agios Nikolaos Orphanos was a chapel of a monastery of Byzantine times.

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1912 - )

    1957 The murals were unveiled during the preservation of the monument, which lasted until 1960.

  2. Ottoman era (1453- 1912)

  3. Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)

    1310 Constructed between 1310 and 1320.

  4. Roman era (30 BC- 330 AC)

  5. Hellenistic era (322- 31 BC)

  6. Classical era (478-323 BC)

  7. Archaic era (800-479 BC)

  8. Geometric era (-1100- 800 BC)

  9. Prehistory (-1100 BC)

What I can see

The Byzantine church of Agios Nikolaos was a monastery chapel and today is a UNESCO world heritage monument. It is one room with an ambulatory, and with the addition of the elongated narthex the two side chapels on the east side were united, thus quadrupling the size of the church. The structure of the walls is irregular and consists of stones, adobe bricks, and ceramic decoration. Inside, the openings are decorated with reused Theodosian capitals with painted decoration, the altarpiece is marble with written decoration (probably from the original building), and under the floor of the ambulatory there are tombs. The murals are among the best preserved in the city, depicting many scenes (Dodecaorto, Passion, saints), which are very lively with dramatic intensity. The forms are characterized by subtlety of features and richness of colour. Next to the church, a two-storey house has been restored, which refers to the wings of the cells of the monastery.

What I can't see

The two construction phases of the church show that the –simplier- first phase (three-aisled wooden-roofed basilica) took place during difficult times, while the second phase was built during the city’s heyday, which is why its murals are some of  the most important examples of Byzantine art from the Palaiologos dynasty. The church was part of the Vlatadon Monastery, and during the Ottoman period it continued to be used as a Christian church. According to sources from the 17th and 18th centuries, the name “Orphanos” (i.e. orphan) comes either from the name of the church’s founder or from Saint Nicolas, who is considered the protector of widows and orphans. However, it turned out that the founder of the church was the Serbian ruler Stephan Milutin. According to other sources, there was an orphanage before the monastery, which was founded by the emperor Theodosius. There were housed the children of 7,000 people, who were slaughtered on his orders at the hippodrome in 390 AD. The church was built about 1000 years later.



  • Address: Irodotou & Kordou St.


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