Syndication Feature Article : 'Iconic Buildings: Blue Domed Churches of Greece'

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Blue Domed Greek Churches | Magazine Article Content Syndication - Images by Paul Williams
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Iconic Buildings: The Blue Domed Churches of Greece

The iconic blued domed Orthodox churches of the Greek Islands must be some of the most photographed buildings in Greece. Their blue domes and whitewashed walls symbolically make up the colours of the Greek flag.

The older churches of the islands are built in the tradition of Byzantine Orthodoxy. When Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire in 313, pagan temples with domes that represented heaven were converted into churches and the dome was then incorporated into new Christian church design. Making the cruciform shape of the Christian cross is the nave crossed by the transept with the dome sitting above the junction of the two.

At the east end of the nave the church has a screen, an iconostasis, which conceals the churches altar from the worshipers. The iconostasis is a screen where Greek Orthodox religious Icon paintings of are hung. In large Basilicas these are elaborately carved wooden screens with paintings of different saints on individual panels. The Icon paintings traditionally contain a lot of gold paint which reflect the many candles used to illuminate the interior of the dark churches during religious ceremonies, so enhancing the Icons mystical effect on the congregation. In country churches and chapels the icon screens are usually simple painted wooden partitions with framed Icon pictures hung on them. One of the main schisms between the church of Rome and Constantinople was the veneration of Icons. Eastern Orthodoxy venerates painted Icons only and disapproves of 3 dimensional statues because the commandments forbid the worship of idols. The Western Roman tradition allows for both painted and sculptured religious artifacts in its churches.

The Orthodox church bell tower design ranges from separate elaborate structures built next to the church, to simpler designs where the bells are arranged on a tired wall at one end of the church roof.

Many of the Greek Islands chapels and churches were built by individuals after promising God that if he saved them from events that they were caught up in, such as fierce storms at sea, that they would do so. Often the country chapels are built near springs with stone benches outside and were used as water and rest stops by travelers crossing the islands. You can still find bottles of water in many of these country chapels so that thirsty traveller's can quench their thirst as well as candles to be lit as an offering to God.

The Santorini Island of Thira has some of the most beautiful blue domed churches in Greece with famous examples in Oia and Imerovigli. Other fine blue domed churches can be found can be found on the island of Ios. Other islands, like Mykonos, prefer red or white domed churches neither of which seem to have the charm or iconic power of the blue domed churches.

 

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