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Holy church of Porta Panagia, was the church of the Monastery of "Great Entrances"
(Megalon Pylon). It lies on the bank of the river "Portaikos" in the north of
"Pylis" Municipality in the community "Porta".
In the Porta-Panagia both centre bay and cross arms are pulled together
by one single transverse barrel vault, high up. The church was built by sebastokrator
John - Angel Duke Komnenos in 1283. The exonarthex belongs to the type of domed
octagon, the iconostasis is decorated with mosaic icons of Christ and Virgin placed
in an inverse position (1283 - 1289). The remained frescoes both in the nave and
the narthex date to 18th century.
Restoration works have been done in the church. While works of fixing
and restoration were taking place in the monastery, excavations on the floor of
the church brought to surface the first floor and plenty architectural parts of
the ancient temple in second use.
Nowadays it is used both as a church and archaeological site to be
Opposite to Pyli, in the settlement of Porta-Panagia it is the famous
homonymous Byzantine temple, which in the old days constituted the catholic of
the abbey which was under the Patriarch's jurisdiction and carried the name of
the Impregnable Virgin Mary. This was destroyed during the Ottoman domination.
The temple was built in 1283 by Ioannis Aggelos Komninos Doukas, illegitimate
son of the despot of Ipirus Micheal Douka the 2nd.
It is consisted of the main temple and the ulterior (at others previous)
The Abbey of the Big Portal that also included the temple of Porta
Panagia, in the Byzantine years was a rich abbey under the Patriarch's jurisdiction
(that is to say depended directly on the Patriarch) with a lot of properties,
which, when the abbey was destroyed in the years of the Ottoman domination, were
given to the residents of the neighbouring Pyli, while the temple with a letter
in 1843, devolved to the property of the
Abbey of Dousikos. The temple of Porta Panagia, is a cross-roofed three-aisle
royal that has been built on an ancient temple. This is testified by the pillars
that are found in the area round the temple, as well as by the existence of many
architectural members either fixture or collected occasionally, that today are
kept in the temple. This temple follows the same architectural type with the temple
of Κato Panagia,
Westwards of the temple, there is a wide forth-narthex that follows
the type of the registered cruciform with dome and is dated in the dues of the
14th century. The temple beyond the bizarre architecture has also to present rich
sculpture, mosaic and written decor that unfortunately were destroyed by the fire
of 1855. From the sculptural decor fragmentarily capitals were saved, which turned
the pillars and part of the marble temple to the Prothesis and the central aisle.
From the mosaic decor were saved - the unique in the Hellenic area so much for
the technique and the style as for their bizarre inverted position - mosaic pictures
of Christ and Virgin Mary.
The professor Anastasios Orlandos places their manufacture in 1285,
hε connects them with the mosaics of the dome of the
abbey of Parigoritjssa in Arta and in particular, he attributes them in the
same craftsman. From the iconographic decor, remarkable is the mural that covers
the semicircular niche, in the SW corner of the main temple, where the proprietor
of the abbey Ioannis Doukas is portrayed that an angel leads him to the protector
of the abbey, Virgin Mary. It is one of the most infrequent portraits of the Komnenians.
The last excavational research brought into light the grave of Ioannis
Doukas - unfortunately despoilt. The same excavational research, which was made
in the context of the LEADER program for the restoration of the abbey, brought
also in the light parts of the initial marble temple, parts of the ancient inscribed
columns, all of which constituting the second flooring of the abbey, of course
in second use. Also the base of the initial stone pulpit came into light and the
marble pillar that supported the High Altar, while segmentally the initial marble
flooring of temple was revealed.
Finally, interesting are also the murals that are saved in the Chancel
which are placed in the 13th century. The mural in the arch of the central declinable,
those next to the window of the southern and the western side of the temple, are
mainly dated in the 18th century just like those of the splint - to which unfortunately
the fire of 1980, incurred irreparable damage.
This text is cited Nov 2003 from the Municipality of Pyli URL below, which contains images.
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