Churches around Paleochora

(6) Photo Gallery

In South West Crete and the area around Paleochora in particular, there are many fine examples of Orthodox frescos, religious images painted directly onto the walls of churches.  
Older frescos, mostly painted in the period when Crete was under Venetian rule, can be found in many of the villages around Paleochora and locally,  examples can be found in Koudoura, in the church of Archangelos Michail (on the Sklavopoula road), and in Kalamos, in the church of Agios Ioannis Theologos.  In Anidri  village, the rare ‘Double Aisled’ church of Agios Georgios, situated at the top of the Anidri Gorge, contains frescoes painted by John Pagomenos, ‘John the Frozen,’ around 1323.

Further afield, the village of Plemeniana has another church dedicated to Agios Georgios; this one has a fine fresco of St. George featuring the ‘Boy from Mytilene.’ Beyond Plemeniana, lies Kandanos, a village renowned for the number of its frescoed churches; four are within walking distance of the centre and others are to be found in nearby hamlets of Anisaraki and Koufalotos.

In Azogires you can visit the tiny church of Agios Ioannis Erimitis, Saint John the Hermit, as well as the Monastery of the Holy Fathers, dedicated to the 99 Holy Fathers who travelled with him. The monastery is now the village museum and access can be arranged through the Alpha Kafenion in the village.

The Orthodox Church puts great emphasis upon the use of images to assist its believers. In the past when few people could read, frescoes were used to explain the Christian doctrine and beliefs, and images painted on portable wooden panels (icons) used to aid prayer to a particular saint.
The use of frescos continues to this day, as a visit to the main church in PaleochoraEvangelistria, the Annunciation, the church with the large yellow bell tower at the top of the town, will show.

Text and pictures © by Mick McTiernan