Church of Taxiarches at Monoitsia

  Approximately 800 meters north of Chalki, in the center of the island, opposite the small, almost abandoned village of Monikia, stands today the two-aisled, dome byzantine basilica of Taxiarches.

  The church of Taxiarches was initially a three-aisled basilica. The existing apse of the south aisle was at first the central apse of the three-aisled basilica, which has been destroyed. The current form of the church is the result of extensive restoration work undertaken in the monument after the 12th century. It was then that the south aisle collapsed and Taxiarches was turned into a twin-naved church. The south vault of the twin-naved church was covered by a new vault, supported by two semicircular arches based on pillars at its east and west end and on its south wall.

    Remnants of the south and west wall of the initial three-aisled basilica were revealed during excavation work. Furthermore, tombs were revealed in the destruction layer of the south aisle, at north and west, and in the interion of the church. During the last construction phase, and the collapse of the north aisle, rubble masonry blocked the passageway of the north arcade, turning the church into a single-nave one.

   Among the frescoes of the church, revealed during concervation work, the most remarkable one is the composition of Epiphany, on the conch of the sanctuary’s apse, which along with the depiction of hierarchs in the semicircular wall, belong to the initial phase of the monument, dating in the first millenium. On the semicircular wall a second layer of wall paintings can be seen. The wall paintings revealed on the south wall of the aisle, on the other hand, belong to the second phase of the church.

Photographs by Fish Olive

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