Panagia Paregoretissa

Department Archive
Collection Byzantine Research Fund
Reference No. BRF/02/01/09/006
Level Item
Description Photographic Print
Dimensions 21 x 16 cm (H x L)
Place Panagia Paregoretissa
Dates 1890
Donor/Creator Weir Schultz, Mr Robert
Barnsley, Mr Sidney Howard
Scope and Content Distant view of the church from the south-west. Further annotation in pencil survives on the back of the photograph.
Further information Panagia Paregoretissa, situated in the centre of modern Arta, is the largest surviving church of the Epirus Despotate. The present-day building was erected by Nikephoros Komnenos Doukas with his wife Anna Palaiologina and their son Thomas between 1283 and 1296. Nikephoros partially used structures of an older semi-destroyed church, founded by his father, Michael II, around the 1250s. In the so-called Paregoretissa II, the naos’ octagonal plan at ground level is transformed into a domed cruciform church thanks to a triple order of columns and colonnettes standing at right angles and supporting the squinches of the dome. The naos is enveloped by an ambulatory with five-domed galleries. Seen from the outside, the church is enclosed within a solid, rather bulky, cube. Although it retains the overabundance of ornamental brickwork, a prominent feature of the architecture of the Despotate of Epirus (one of the independent Greek states established after the fall of Constantinople in 1204 along with the empires of Nicaea and Trebizond), the Panagia Paregoretissa is a masterpiece of this style.

The interior decoration of the church consists of impressive mosaics in the dome as well as in the squinches crafted by artists outside of Epirus. The marble archivolt on the counter façade of the naos records the patron’s name, Nikephoros. Also noteworthy is the western artistic influence seen in the sculptures of the arches, corbels, and pointed foil arches above the naos dome.