Palaia Episkopi

Department Archive
Collection Byzantine Research Fund
Reference No. BRF/01/01/11/005
Level Item
Place Tegea Palaia Episcopi
Dates 1888-1890
Donor/Creator Weir Schultz, Mr Robert
Barnsley, Mr Sidney Howard
Scope and Content Longitudinal section. ################
Further information The church of Palaia Episkopi at present-day Tegea, now dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos (Koimesis), was built on the remains of the ancient Tegea theatre in the region of Byzantine Nikli. It is a three-aisled basilica with five domes and a narrow narthex. The building was extensively restored by Ernest Ziller in 1888. It is a strange combination of the domed basilica and the inscribed cross-in-square type. The side bays of the main inscribed cross are covered by barrel vaults. The two east corner bays communicate with the main aisle while the two corner bays in the west part of the church give entrance only to the narthex.

The church is built in alternating stone and brick courses: the cloisonné masonry, characteristic of the middle Byzantine church-building tradition in the Greek mainland (‘Greek School’), does not appear fully developed in the walling. Continuous dentil courses enliven the upper part of the walls, an abacus frieze decorates the main apse while brickwork arranged in rhombois patterns decorates the side apses. Marble cornices, ancient as well as early Christian spolia have been inserted in the walling of the west façade. The windows of Palaia Episkopi are double of the arcade type: each light is arched separately in brick. On these grounds the monument has been assigned a date around the second half of the 10th c. The original dome of the church collapsed before 1850. The interior was frescoed in 1935/6.