Church of the Transfiguration of Christ (Soteira Church)

Department Archive
Collection Byzantine Research Fund
Reference No. BRF/01/01/15/006
Level Item
Place Christianoi
Dates 1888-1890
Creator Weir Schultz, Mr Robert
Barnsley, Mr Sidney Howard
Scope and Content Detail of the windows. This is a preliminary drawing. It is annotated in pencil: 'Christianoupolis 3'.
Further information Soteira church stands at the very centre of Christianoupolis (Christianoi Trifyllias), a small insignificant village, which, however, was the seat of a metropolis during the Byzantine period. It is one of the most impressive ecclesiastical buildings in the Peloponnese. It suffered severe damage in the 1886 earthquake and was drastically restored in the 1940’s.
In terms of architecture, the building belongs to the so-called ‘hpeirotikos’ octagonal type with narthex – a large group of ecclesiastical buildings in the Greek mainland, the earliest of which is the katholikon of the Hosios Loukas monastery follow exactly this type. However, the monument displays a series of archaic features, such as the shallow conches at the two ends of the western chamber and certain asymmetries (the particularly large eastern cross-arm, the peculiar shape of the squinches and the tripartite sanctuary- usually the sanctuary in octagonal churches consists of five parts) that differentiate it from contemporary twelfth-century monuments of the same type. The particularly refined cloisonné masonry (double bricks are inserted vertically in the walling of the west side), the crepidome upon which the church stands, the large marble crosses in the lower series of the walling which divide it in two parts, the re-used architectural members in the western doorframe, the unique variety of window types as well as the few brickwork decorative elements which enliven the walls, bring Soteira church closer to key monuments of the 11th c. such as the katholikon of the Daphni monastery.
Worth noting is the architectural sculpture of the church: the marble temple in particular, which is decorated with low relief floral alternate motifs, has been compared with similar contemporary examples in churches of the Peloponnese. Soteira church was decorated with mosaics and frescoes of which only traces survive today. A two-storey(?) building is attached to the west side of the monument. Galleries cover the north and south aisles. According to latest studies, which have managed to identify many different phases in the construction of the monument, the church must have been the katholikon of a monastery.