Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Metropolitan Church of Saint George, Nafplio

The Metropolitan Church of Saint George is one of the most important and oldest churches in the city and many great events from Greek history took place here. It is believed to have been built in the early 16thcentury, during the time of the first Venetian occupation of the city. After the invasion of the Ottoman Turks, the church of Saint George was the site of the reception for the victorious commander-in-chief, Francesco Morosini. During the second Turkish occupation, the church was once again turned into a mosque, and after the liberation of the city in 1822, Saint George became Orthodox. The church is built in the basilica style, with a dome and murals that must have been created during the second Venetian Occupation, around the beginning of the 18th century, in a western style. In fact, the depiction of the Last Supper is a copy of the well-known composition by Leonardo Da Vinci. In 1823 the murals were re-painted by Dimitrios Vyzantions, the author of the famous “Babylon”.

Funeral ceremonies of many famous figures from the Greek revolution have been held in Aghios Georgios, such as Palaion Patron Germanos and Dimitrios Ypsilandis. It was here, amidst great solemnity, that the funeral service of the murdered Greek governor, Ioannis Kapodistrias was held. It was to the church of Aghios Georgios that Otto, first King of Greece, came on 25th January 1833, as soon as he arrived in Nafplio, which was then the capital of Greece. Today, the throne where the young Otto sat during services can still be seen. The narthex and bell-tower were added in 1834 by the regent who ruled until Otto came of age, in order to commemorate the king’s arrival to the city. It was at this time that the church became Nafplio’s Metropolitan church. South of the church is a very important building that dates from the time of the first Venetian occupation, as does the church itself. It is two-storey and surrounds the church in an L shape. Around 1812 it must have housed the Venetian Religious School, while during the 19th century the building had various uses, such as printing press, or an orphanage. We know that in 1824 it housed the Ministry of Education, whilst in 1830, the Hellenic School.

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