Soteira Lykodemou

Department Archive
Collection Byzantine Research Fund
Reference No. BRF/01/01/01/084
Level Item
Place Soteira Lykodemou
Athens
Dates 1888-1890
Creator Weir Schultz, Mr Robert
Barnsley, Mr Sidney Howard
Scope and Content Rubbing - Detail of part of the continious ornamental frieze that decorates the drum of the dome just below the cornice. Two confronted deers are depicted running. This is the first of a series of drawings that reproduce the decorative motifs of the frieze. The drawings are numbered in pencil by the creators. Various sketches (columns) survive on the reverse.
Further information The church of Soteira Lykodemou (Saviour of Lykodemos or Russian church), Athens, is the earliest and most faithful reproduction of the katholikon of the Hosios Loukas monastery in Phocis (early 11th c.). A series of obituary inscriptions incised on the inside of the south wall near the west end help us establish a date for the church after 1015 and before 1031. In 1847 Soteira Lykodemou was purchased by the Russian government to function as the parish church of the Russian community in Athens. It was drastically repaired in 1855. The building, which was originally the katholikon of a monastic complex, is a complex octagon with dome and a two-storey narthex.

The cloisonné appears fully developed in the walling: Kufic inserts decorate the ashlar blocks -on the east and north walls they develop into continuous friezes- dentil courses have been inserted under the eaves and at window level. Panels inscribed with Kufic motifs in champlevé technique also decorate the church. The Kufic motifs and the system by which they were applied bear great similarity to those of the katholikon of the Hossios Loukas monastery and the Hagioi Apostoloi church in the Athenian Agora. The former is earlier, the latter roughly contemporary with the Lykodemou church. Soteira Lykodemou seems to mark also the general adoption of the grouped window type. The original fresco decoration of the church, which was reproduced in a series of mid-nineteenth-century drawings by P. Durand, is now lost. Murals by L. Thiersch (1847) decorate the church.