Hagios Nikolaos

Department Archive
Collection Byzantine Research Fund
Reference No. BRF/01/01/14/133
Level Item
Place Hagia Nikolaos
Mystras
Dates 1888-1890
Creator Weir Schultz, Mr Robert
Barnsley, Mr Sidney Howard
Scope and Content Relief panel (left) - East elevation (right, upper part), Plan (right, lower part). This is a preliminary drawing. It is entitled in pencil: 'Mistras-Church of St Nicholas'. It is numbered in pencil (no 2) in the upper right-hand corner. Futher annotation in pencil survives.
Further information Mistras, one of the most important Medieval cities of Morea, lies four miles north-west of present-day Sparta on the summit of a Taygetos hill. The first building to be erected by William II Villehardouin, the Frankish Prince of Achaea in the location was the castle (1249). Soon, a settlement was established outside the citadel- most of the churches and chapels stand outside it too. After the recapture of Morea by the Byzantines in 1262 Mistras became the headquarters of the Byzantine general and, later, the seat of the Lakedaimonian bishopic. During the 14th c. it was the capital of the Despotate of Mistras and flourished under the Kantakouzenoi and the Palaiologoi reigns until its fall to the Turks in 1460.

Hagios Nikolaos, which stands close to the palaces, is an inscribed cross-in-square church with narthex. It was the first building to be erected in Mistras after the Turkish occupation of the site in 1460. The church is built of rubble. The use of bricks and other decorative elements in the exterior walls is restricted. However, the interior of the building is decorated with good quality wall-paintings in extensive iconographical cycles. The church has been dated to the 17th c.