In the churches of the Solea valley, authentic examples of Byzantine monumental art are found dating from the 11th to the 19th century. Frescoes of high aesthetic value include elements that demonstrate the relationship between Eastern and Western Christian art. The icons, on the other hand, are invaluable, ancient and unique.
The inclusion of these churches in the Unesco World Heritage Site List, reflects the recognition of the high level and quality of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine painting in Cyprus.
Frescoes of Panagia tou Araka Church
The wall paintings date back to 1192 AD. and are the most complete set of frescoes in Cyprus. The main features of the frescoes are the pinkness of the figures, the intense ripples of the crests and the imamas, the lively movement and the tall forms.
The iconographic cycle starts with scenes of the Lord surrounded by the throne of Preparation, Angels in medals, Prophets, Annunciation of the Virgin Mary and Evangelists. Then, the Virgin Mary with Christ is pictured between the Archangels and seven Saints of Cyprus.
With scenes from the Birth of Christ, the Apostate Cathedral, the Baptism, the Ascension, the Episodes and the Assumption of the Virgin, the circle of frescoes is completed. The fresco of Panagia Arakiotissa has a special place. The frescoes are the work of the painter Theodoros Apsevdis.
Frescoes of the Archangel Michael Church
The Church of Archangel Michael has been characterised as one of the most important monuments in the area due to the well-preserved Byzantine frescoes of the 15th century and the wooden temple shield, also painted by Byzantine representations. Noteworthy is the imposing mural painting of Archangel Michael, which has been preserved in excellent condition, while the name of the painter of the church – Minas – was also preserved from the Marathasa region.
This church, of around half a millennium of age, has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. It is one-aisled, with a wooden roof and a C-shaped splint, which was used as a gynekonite because of its small size. It was built and frescoed at the expense of the priest Vasilios Hamados, who is portrayed along with his wife and two daughters offering a model of the church to Archangel Michael. It is remarkable that the eyes of certain Saints were destroyed during the time of looting by the altars, in order not to see the damage they caused. Three images have been preserved, located in a museum and in the neighboring church of the Holy Cross in Pedoulas. The church celebrates on November 8, a feast day of the Synaxis of the Archangels.
Frescoes of the Holy Monastery of Panagia Chrysokourdalliotissa
The frescoes of the Church, preserved at the same time as the church was by the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, date back to the first half of the 16th century, but most of them have unfortunately since been destroyed. Those in very good condition, are the ones located in at the altar and in some other parts of the church. On the south wall, at the corner, there is the well-known fresco of Apostle Barnabas, perhaps the best in Cyprus. On the northern wall, there is the magnificent mural of St. George with scenes from his martyrdom and the monk of Moni bound to the Saint.
On the western wall there is a large fresco of the Crucifixion and then frescoes from the Pentecost Sundays. Noteworthy is also the gold-plated carved iconostasis with great and rare icons. Particularly important is the pilgrimage and the miraculous icon of the 16th century of The Virgin Mary Odigitrias (Guide). Another special element of this church is its stalls, with carved dragons on the sides, dating back to the Venetian domination.
Frescoes of the Panagia Moutoulla Church
All the frescoes of the Sacred Step and the main temple date back to 1280, when the temple was built. They are distinguished by their linear austerity, the limited color scale and the bad proportions of the figures. The bodies are dull, the heads disproportionate to the bodies, the eyes wide open with the daughter pointed. The painter is unknown, but his style shows the effects of Byzantine models of the 12th century. and modern western painting.
The pictorial program has several originals, such as the representation of the military horse rider Ayios Christoforos, the adjective “THE KAPPADOS” in the image of the saint of Agios Georgios, the two coiled upright snakes in the performance of Annunciation and others. The image of the Seven Sleeping Children of Ephesus on the eastern side of the north outer wall is unique in Cyprus.
In December 1985 the church of Panagia Moutoulla was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Courtesy of the www.visitsolea.com