Agios Onoufrios in Thronos Amari in Crete
Agios Onoufrios in Thronos Amari in Crete
Agios Onoufrios in Thronos Amari in Crete
Agios Onoufrios in Thronos Amari in Crete

Agios Onoufrios Church: A 14th-Century Byzantine Treasure in Amari, Crete

Construction Period: 1329/1330 AD (based on inscription)

Location: Near the village of Genna in the Amari region, Rethymno, Crete, situated next to a small cemetery and surrounded by an olive grove of ancient trees.

Dimensions:

  • Exterior: 7.80 meters x 4.30 meters (excluding the apse)
  • Single-aisled, barrel-vaulted chapel with a semi-circular apse.

Historical Significance:

  • Built by Michael Varouchas and his wife, members of a prominent Cretan family with Byzantine noble origins.
  • The Varouchas family held feudal lands in the Amari region, including the nearby villages of Monastiraki and Agia Anna.
  • The church’s frescoes, dating to 1329/1330, are a significant example of late Byzantine art in Crete.
  • The frescoes depict various religious scenes, including the Deesis, the Annunciation, the Ascension, the Nativity, the Presentation in the Temple, the Baptism of Christ, the Raising of Lazarus, the Betrayal of Judas, the Crucifixion, the Descent into Hell, the Communion of the Apostles, and numerous saints.
  • The church’s stone templon (iconostasis) is one of the few surviving examples in Crete.

Current Status:

  • The church is in good condition, with well-preserved frescoes.
  • The church is not always open to the public, so it’s advisable to check accessibility before visiting.

Frescoes and Connections to Other Churches:

  • The frescoes in Agios Onoufrios exhibit a unique artistic style, characterized by bold colors, expressive figures, and a rich iconographic program.
  • The church’s artistic style and iconography show connections to other churches in the region, such as the Church of the Evangelist John in Margarites, the Church of Agia Marina in Chalepa, Mylopotamos, the Church of Panagia in Lampiotes, Amari, and the Church of Agios Georgios in Apodoulou, Amari.
  • The frescoes also reveal potential connections to the Macedonian School of painting, known for its realism and expressive figures.

Unique Features:

  • The church’s stone templon is a rare and well-preserved example of Byzantine church furnishings in Crete.
  • The glazed ceramic plates adorning the entrance are a unique decorative element, adding a touch of local craftsmanship to the church’s facade.

Source:

Albani, J. (2021). The Wall Paintings of the Church of Agios Onoufrios near Genna, Amari. In N. E. Papadogiannakis & E. Gavrilaki (Eds.), Proceedings of the 11th International Cretological Congress (Rethymno, 21-27 October 2011). Volume B2: Byzantine and Medieval Section. Language and Literature. Archaeology (pp. 365-390). Historical and Folklore Society of Rethymno.

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Venetian
Byzantine period
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