This is one of the oldest temples of Byzantine Arta and dates from around the 10th century. At times he experienced many alterations.
In the middle of beautiful Koronisia in the arms of Amvrakikos stands katakorfa the mound pantoptis guard land and sea, the small church of the Nativity of Mary, a remnant of old and flourishing monastery. Out of saved written sources we learn that the monastery existed before 1193, in the years of the Latin rule and not the beginning of Ottoman rule (15th and 16th century) had many monks and knew great prosperity. Later, however, for various reasons fell into decline until the end of the last century was abandoned from the monks and deserted, however remained until today, albeit trafmatismenoi- witnesses of the old edge of the temple and the small chapel of Saint Onoufriou located a few meters east of the temple.
Also preserved the old well from where the monastery was supplied with water and remains of cells and auxiliary areas to the south of the church. When Seraphim Xenopoulos comes to ancient abbey founded in the 7th century, but the younger scholars Orlandos and Vokotopoulos, taking as a criterion the technical details of the construction of the temple, placing its inception about three centuries later, at the end of the 10th century. So this is one from the oldest temples of Byzantine Arta. The monument to the long presence of experienced occasionally many changes (alterations, repairs, renovations and additions) until it reached the current shape. The main alteration -for which will be particular question; was in 1670. During the 18th century was on the west side of the church the rectangular wooden roof splint, and it is probable that it was built distinctive spire. According to tradition, the well of the monastery built himself holy Onoufrios therefore is also a work of the 18th century.
Significant alterations on the face of the monument occurred in the 19th century, particularly during the renovation of the church in 1870. When later (mid 20th century) replaced the old wooden shed on the north side of the church with pessostirikto portico and walls were coated with plaster, the monument now took its final form. Today the church serves as a parish.
The interior of the church.
The church externally presents singular figure: while the eastern portion is cruciform with a free limb of the Cross, the large western portion is covered with continuous sloping roof. It belongs to the rare type of cross imiengegrammenou domed, but today the figure shows significant differences from the old one. Originally, the western part of the Cross of the roof were enrolled in a rectangular building, which was attached separate vaulted esonarthex. During the conversion of the church in 1670, although the eastern half of the church remained unchanged in the western half, however, unknown why, built unilateral recumbent roof, so the monument took its present form. Easily discern the signs of the alterations in the masonry of the southern side of the monument. The original building was owned port on the south side, which was walled later.
During the “renovation” of 1870 they opened large windows on the north side of the nave, clogged the south door of the modern vestibule, and opened another on the north side. Then they covered with ammokoniama the dome, the north and east of the church and bell tower. The existence of the plaster does not allow us to have a complete picture of the outer wall structure. From what we can observe in only uncovered the south side, the church’s masonry is simple with irregular and unequal stones which also interfere with irregular blocks. The small arched windows of the lateral sides are brick crowning, which together with the toothed cornices and pediments is the only pottery decoration of the temple. The lack of external decoration, simple walls and narrow arched windows -fengites- the niche of the sanctuary and the dome are typical of temples of the first millennium, and therefore help us to correct dating of the monument.
Outside decoration of the monument includes a rectangular marble slab with reliefs, which is walled in later spire. The plate is pierced by light petalomorfo bow and crowned by a sculpture generally whose motifs and art testify ancient Roman influence. The petalomorfo arch is decorated with spiral plants and birds while inside the arc plate insert bearing genuine Byzantine decoration. It is the work of the 13th century and probably comes either her coronation episcopal throne, either the coronation shrine of unsaved old marble iconostasis.
The interior of the church.
The nave is divided into three aisles by two rows of uneven and contoured columns, the whole is covered with domes. Except for one all other columns were reinforced with small pillars, for greater strength in supporting cross vaults. With the redevelopment of 1670 significantly changed the internal image of the monument. Then for greater spaciousness demolished the wall that separated the original interior narthex from the nave and replaced with tribelon, the columns of which were used as bases ancient Ionic capitals placed versa. Simultaneously they were opened on the west side of the original cast two additional side doors, which when later (18th century) added the exonarthex, were converted into large rectangular openings.
The marble floor is preserved until the 15th century and the browser says Kyriakos from Ancona who visited Koronisia in 1437. The only remnant from this floor is the square umbilical bearing symbolic representation of the five loaves with five embossed circles. Interestingly another embossing plate covering the built altar and which is Orlandos probably comes from the ruined early Christian basilica in the small island Kefalos Amvrakikos.
The church is full of wall paintings, but in many places become indistinguishable from soot, and their large sections were covered by whitewash. Moreover, the conversion of the original partition west wall in tribelon caused destruction of the inscription was supposedly above the communication port of the nave to the vestibule, so we do not know when the church was painted. Based on the style of the compositions scholars place their construction in the 17th century but no later than in 1670, since during the conversion of the separation wall in tribelon had destroyed a significant part of older frescoes. In terms of style the painter faithfully followed the technique of Cretan School (vivid colors, exerga halos, etc.).
The exquisite art carved iconostasis was made in the mid 19th century and bears numerous ologlypton floral and animal decorations with usual during late Turkish domination layout. The very beautiful asimostolistes icons of the temple are also from the 19th century. Forms of these images are obvious some a western elements, but the compositions lose Byzantine physiognomy.
The Chapel of St. Onoufriou
These are very small vaulted basilica whose gables on the east and west sides exalted than the tiled mansard roof for aesthetic reasons. Honored the memory of which hermit monk Onoufriou there until the death of (1780) and was buried inside the temple. In the chapel of construction time we do not know if he founded Saint Onoufrios or if it is an older building, which because it was associated with the life of Saint took its name. Likely is the second version and even without excluding the Byzantine origins. In irregular masonry used stones and bricks with only external decoration film in a jagged cornices of the gables. The shed is by columns modern construction.
Inside the church is packed with frescoes with obvious wounds not so much time as the malignancy of some modern Greeks carved out on the images names and dates, aftosystinontas with this way their vandalism. The murals bear the usual during the Turkish occupation provision in zones where, pictured below full-length saints in the middle stitharia saints and more scenes from the calendar. We do not know the construction time, but probably were simultaneous with the narration of the central church of the Virgin Mary, that the 17th century, which supports the view that pre-existed the chapel of Saint Onoufriou.
The Chapel of St. Onoufriou inextricably linked with the life and history of the nearby old Byzantine monument and therefore considered an integral organic member.
Closing presentation of the church of Panagia Koronisia, we would say that this monument may not have the majesty of other Byzantine monuments, but retains, despite the changes that have occurred in both the building itself and the space encircles- his old suggestibility and mystical atmosphere.