Panagia Kapnikarea

Department Archive
Collection Byzantine Research Fund
Reference No. BRF/01/01/01/046
Level Item
Place Panagia Kapnikarea
Athens
Dates 1888-1890
Creator Weir Schultz, Mr Robert
Barnsley, Mr Sidney Howard
Scope and Content Transverse section (top), West elevation (bottom). The elevation depicts the gable-windows of the church which are among the earliest examples of the grouped-type. Noteworthy is the tympanum filling in the west gable window of the naos: the Cufic patterns are interrupted by a flowering cross. A small semi-arch hardly more than a quarter-cicle supports the single window of each of the four gables in the exo-narthex. The two drawings are inscribed separately. Further annotationand sketches in pencil survives.
Further information Panagia Kapnikarea is also known as the ‘princess’ church’, perhaps in association with an Athenian empress of Byzantium, or as the ‘Virgin of Prentzas’ after the homonymous guerrilla chief of the 1821 War of Independence, who added the side-chapel of Hagia Barbara to the north of the building. It is a four-columned cross-in-square church with dome, narthex and a later (late 11th c.) exonarthex with a small colonnaded porch added to the south entrance in the 12th c.

In terms of architecture it follows the middle Byzantine church-building tradition of the Greek mainland (‘Greek School’): instead of pure brick From the early 11th c. Greek builders at least use a cloisonné facing. The stone masonry along the base of the walls has been arranged into a series of large crosses. Dentil courses and ornamental bricks with pseudo-Kufic decorative patterns are employed with economy in the monument. On these grounds, the church can be placed about 1050, later than churches with elaborate ornamental designs in the cloisonné masonry. The neo-Byzantine frescoes of the church were painted by the renowned Modern Greek painter Photis Kontoglou (1895-1965) and his workshop.