Evangelistria

Department Archive
Collection Byzantine Research Fund
Reference No. BRF/01/01/14/038
Level Item
Place Evangelistria
Mystras
Dates 1888-1890
Creator Weir Schultz, Mr Robert
Barnsley, Mr Sidney Howard
Scope and Content Unfinished sketch (south-east elevation?). This is a preliminary drawing.
Further information Mistras, one of the most important medieval cities of Morea, lies four miles north-west of present-day Sparta on the summit of a Taygetos hill. The first building to be erected by William II Villehardouin, the Frankish prince of Achaea, in the location was the castle (1249). Soon, a settlement was established outside the citadel- outside which most of the churches and chapels stand. After the recapture of Morea by the Byzantines in 1262, Mistras became the headquarters of the Byzantine general and, later, the seat of the Lakedaimonian bishopic. During the 14th c. it was the capital of the Despotate of Mistras and flourished under the Kantakouzenoi and the Palaiologoi reign until its fall to the Turks in 1460.

The modest church of the Evangelistria, about whose origins nothing is known, lies on the road that leads from Metropolis to the Vrontochion monastery. It is a two-columned inscribed cross-in-square church with octagonal dome and a two-storey vaulted narthex: a small roofed room that terminates in an open vaulted portico on the west has been attached to the south side of the church to support the staircase. The room was used as an ossuary. Regular cloisonné was used on the east side of the church, the arms of the cross and the dome alone. Few decorative elements (dentil courses below the cornice, brickwork friezes) enliven the exterior. Worth noting is the sculpture in the Evangelistria: the almost square low-relief capitals of the monument are unique, the original carved frame of the central iconostasis door still survives in situ, the interlaced lintel of the exterior north door must have originally belonged either to the prothesis or the diakonikon. Few remains of wall-paintings that have been dated to the beginning of the 15th c. allow us to conclude that the church was decorated with a fully developed iconographical programme. All Mistras churches were restored in 1930 by A. Orlandos.