Hagioi Apostoloi tou Solaki

Department Archive
Collection Byzantine Research Fund
Reference No. BRF/02/01/01/003
Level Item
Place Hagioi Apostoloi tou Solaki
Dates 1903
Donor/Creator Bosanquet, Professor Robert Carr
Scope and Content View of the interior of the church. View of the holy bema of the church from the south door. Further annotation in pencil survives at the back of the photograph.
Further information The church of Hagioi Apostoloi in the ancient agora, Athens, which is known as the Solakis church, the name of the family to which the monument belonged during the Ottoman period, is unique for its architecture: it constitutes the sole surviving example (unicum) of an amalgam of the four-column cross-in-square type with Athenian dome and a tetraconch (quatrefoil plan).

Four major conches are formed on the main axes of the cross, four absidioles on the diagonals. The west conch and the two side-conches have masterfully been shaped to allow the addition of a narthex. Low and high, square and rectangular spatial units interlock and merge. On the exterior, the combination of red and white cloisonné walling with Kufic/Kufesque inserts and ornamental brickwork of dentil bands conveys an impression of both strength and colouristic variety. Slender colonnettes have been used for the corners of the drum. Though much smaller and of different plan, the church of Hagioi Apostoloi shares similar features, such as the opus sectile marble floor and the richly ornamented masonry with the katholikon of Hosios Loukas in Phocis.

The Kufic motifs and the system by which these were applied bear similarities also to those of the church of Hagioi Iasonas and Sosipatros on the island of Kerkyra (ca. 1000) and the Soteira Lykodemou church at Athens (before 1031). The katholikon of Hosios Loukas is earlier, the two latter monuments roughly contemporary with the Solakis church.
A considerable part of the interior of the building was occupied by tombs and burials. Archaeological investigation of the monument began in 1954. The restoration was completed in 1959.