Saints Artemios and Paraskevi



Church of Saints Artemios and Paraskevi
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Between the villages Aroni and Argoulide at Cape Akrotiri we meet the double-aisled church of Saints Artemios and Paraskevi. This Byzantine church has been built in two phases with the right aisle belonging to Agia Paraskevi probably being the oldest. Between the two doors of the temple there is an old well for the collection of rainwater and there is a carved stone trough in bedrock. The construction of the temple dates back from the 14th century, a few years after the nearby Byzantine church of Saint George (only 25 meters away). The left aisle is dedicated to Saint Artemios, the saint patron of the Greek Police celebrating on October 20. The nearby temple of Saint George is one of only two churches at Akrotiri that still bear frescoes. Between Saint Artemios and Saint George we meet the ruins of a large building, built during the German occupation, where German soldiers lived. In the rock just behind the church of Saint George we meet two different caves which served as ammunition warehouses. Both these caves preexisted as natural caves that were enlarged by human labor. It is very likely that the two spacious caverns were used as monk cells during the years of Venetian rule.

The cult of Saints Paraskevi and Artemios seems to reached our days mistakenly, like too many Byzantine churches of Crete that modern research has revealed that they were initially dedicated to other saints. The main reason is that during the Turkish occupation entire villages changed their faith and embraced the Islam. Thus the churches of these villages that were not destroyed, remained inactive for centuries or even changed their use. When in the late 19th century Crete was liberated and churches acquired again their devotional use by the Christians, they could not remember the honored saint and gave a new name, which usually was not the right or the original. This is the case with Saint Artemios and Saint Paraskevi, as the scraping of the plaster in the aisle of Sait Paraskevi has revealed a very old sign that clearly states Panagia Odigitria (Virgin Mary) which was originally the honored saint of the temple. Despite that, even today, the church still celebrates the names of Saints Artemios and Paraskevi.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Chania Prefecture
  • Type: Church
  • Peak Period: Venetian Era (1204 AD - 1669 AD)
  • Accessibility: Paved road

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