For map see entry on HGC site << Previous Entry Next Entry >>

In the central Troodos Mountains, 1.2 miles (2 km) southwest of Kakopetria (Nicosia district) in the upper Solea valley at 800m a.s.l., on the west bank of the Klarios / Karyotes. The now defunct monastery on the site is first attested in a late 13th / early 14th-century inscription in the narthex [Papacostas (1999a) 6.B.I.63].

Description: The domed cross-in-square structure, with heavy rectangular piers and barrel vaulted compartments, without additional sanctuary bays, was built on a very irregular plan with semi-circular arches and barrel vaults and an internally horse-shoe and externally polygonal apse (perhaps over an earlier apse?). The rough masonry, much altered over the centuries, consists of rubble with some brick used in the recessed window arches and niches on the north and west façades. The dome drum is pierced by four windows alternating with two recessed blind arches in brick giving the impression of a dodecagonal drum. Windows and blind arches are outlined by ceramic quatrefoil ornaments, under a horizontal frieze of identical ceramic elements. Ceramic decoration is also found over the west naos door (now in the narthex). Various layers of fresco decoration dating to different periods are preserved, including the early 12th-century panel showing Saint Nicholas on the walled southeast compartment arch. A three-bay domed narthex with calotte and blind arches along the east and west walls was added, partly concealing the recessed niches of the west façade of the naos [Stylianou (1946) 98-107; MKE 10, 247-49; Wharton (1988) 68-71].

Dating: An early 11th-century date for the naos is suggested by the earliest layer of fresco decoration, surviving mainly in the west and east cross arms and in the apse [Stylianou (1985) 54-59; Wharton (1988) 70], and by the ceramic decoration of the dome [Papageorgiou (1985a) 328, suggesting second half of the 11th century]. An early 12th-century date for the narthex is once more suggested by the fresco decoration [Stylianou (1985) 59-62].

Later additions / alterations: The entrance into the diakonikon was walled probably in the early 12th century in order to receive a large fresco panel depicting Saint Nicholas with a monk donor [Stylianou (1985) 62-63]. Gables were built and a large steep timber roof was added over the originally tiled naos and narthex. This must have occurred after the construction of the latter in the early 12th century and before the painting of the well known icon labelled ‘St Nicholas of the Roof’ in the late 13th century, commissioned for this church where it was kept until recently [Papageorgiou (1975) 194; on the icon see Evans and Wixom (1997) 397-98, no. 263]. The timber roof was perhaps added soon after the narthex and at the same time as the execution of the Saint Nicholas fresco panel and the replacement of the original gypsum templon by a wooden iconostasis in the early 12th century [Stylianou (1985) 62-65 and Wharton (1988) 71], and following the example of Asinou. At some unrecorded date the north wall of the narthex was rebuilt (after its collapse?), concealing the fresco decoration on the northern extremities of the east and west walls. The apse window was altered, while a door was opened into the north cross arm.

Modern repairs: In the mid-1950s the structure was repaired, the lower courses of an earlier (?) semi-circular apse were revealed under the present polygonal apse, fragments of the original gypsum templon were discovered in the wall closing off the diakonikon (beariong the Saint Nicholas fresco panel), the original tile floor was revealed and a new floor was installed. The timber roof was repaired, the vaults and dome were re-tiled, while the earth which had accumulated against the west façade of the narthex was removed allowing to reopen the western doorway [ARDA 1955, 9-10, 1956, 11-12]. The frescoes were consolidated and cleaned in 1966-75 revealing earlier layers: a 14th-century layer from the apse and bema was removed to the Nicosia Byzantine Museum, and a 15th-century layer in the southwest recess of the narthex was moved to the empty northwest recess [ARDA 1966, 7, 1968, 8, 1969, 8, 1970, 10, 1971, 9, 1972, 11, 1973, 14, 1974, 15, 1975, 14, 1981, 13-14; AD 22 (1967) 32, 29 (1973/74) 1014; AR 1975-76, 67; Papageorgiou (1968a) 236].

Early literature: The church was described and drawn in 1735 by Barskij (the drawing has not been located), who commented on the timber roof and left a graffito in the church [Stylianou (1957) 92 and pl. 27, Stylianou (1985) 75; Grishin (1996) 73-74]. Jeffery, apparently misinterpreting the church’s epithet, suggests a curious original structure in timber planks on a stone platform, while Gunnis speaks of a (now lost) marble font [Jeffery (1918) 286; Stylianou (1946) 98; Gunnis (1936) 242].

Views: Stylianou (1946) 105 [dome].

Plan / section: Stylianou (1946) 102 and Papageorgiou (1966a) 224 [essentially identical sketchy plans]; Wharton (1988) 69 [the detailed plan does not show the extreme irregularities of the layout]; Papageorgiou (1982b) 445 [this is the best available plan although it does not show the vaulting system].