St. Basil of the Bridge


It is a small picturesque church dating from 900 and is located in the formerly named Top Altis, one kilometers northwest the bridge and left the highway Arta Ioannina, almost invisible among the orchards. So named in contrast to the other Holy Kingdom City, Agios Vasilios Market, as it is called. The church for many centuries was halfway stuck in the ground of silting caused by the floods of Arachthos, with painful consequences mainly for text decoration.

In 1969 the archaeological service – under the guidance and supervision of the University professor Panagiotis Vokotopoulos – began the work of removing the backfill and in 1972 restored the monument in its present form. The embankment was done in three stages, as evidenced by the fact that were found during excavations three successive paved floors and two successive altars. Based on the findings and the construction of the monument data, the Univ. Vokotopoulos puts its inception in the second half of the 9th century. This is therefore one of the oldest buildings salvaged Byzantine Arta long before the foundation of the Despot.

It is cruciform with a dome, but has the unique feature that only he from the temples of Arta presents free shape of the cross and not enrolled in a rectangular building. East ends in a semicircular apse. By 1969 the main entrance on the west side reached almost to the roof of the church and certainly opened after the last backfill. So, it had to reconstruct a large part of this aspect since the excavation was the initial position of the entrance in the narthex. Then he became the port, the wooden lintel, the brick arched lintel with toothed belt that surrounds and above the lintel part of the wall. The most striking than the trappings of this temple is the dome, the imposing disproportionate -compared with other ktisma- height, and elegant thanks to its ceramic decoration. In the high bezel (3,05m. Height) find brick frames and toothed strips around the windows and eaves, eye drops but mainly a ceramic decorative band that encircles the dome and offers all the beauty and quaintness. The width of this film blocks were placed in such a way as to form a continuous zigzag line – combination of very common in continental temples. The masonry is simple and irregular with disparate stones and small pieces of briquettes without pottery or other decoration.

Only a limited space (8.65 x 5.96 m.) And includes the nave and narthex separated with two semi-destroyed pilasters. These pilasters is what was left from the original wall of the western side of the temple, before the stent is inserted. This side was demolished to become the new floor after the last backfill. The entire church is covered inside with cylindrical vaults. Temple is not, nor should there initially because it found traces. Sculptural decoration not saved, except for a headstone and a half small pillars located at the museum. But we have painted decoration s stubbornness of moisture and wear time-maintained, even in poor condition. According to data published by the transceiver. Vokotopoulos, found three layers of frescoes, which unfortunately had been coated with successive coatings. The maintenance team painstakingly unearthed these layers, from which the two youngest are clearly visible in a section of the wall of the southern part of the cross-left positions of the socket. There is depicted frontally prelate and beneath this layer Agios Vasileios with polystafrio chasuble. On the opposite wall of the same part are depicted the Saints Constantine and Helen in the above zone a portion of the Baptism of Christ. Finally, on the west wall of the north leg depicted two saints on horseback. Scraping mortar covering vaults, was not attempted.

Based on style elements, the oldest layer of frescoes dating to the second half of the 13th century and most important example of the Virgin Mary holding Jesus in the sanctuary. At the same time it created the majority of the frescoes uncovered. In the 16th century must become the beautiful performance of St. Basil (second layer) while the mural prelate that partially covers the Holy Kingdom, is the work of moderate painter of the 17th or 18th century (third layer).

To complete the exterior appearance of the monument added that during maintenance work in 1969 was the paving of the floor and the low altar. Also during excavations were found graves in the northern, southern and western part of the cross. The tombs consisted of upright stone slabs periekleinan akteristous dead.
By 1969 Saint Basil the bridge was a small temple misothammenos that no one paid attention. Today, after the resurrection, the monument took its place among the other splendid monuments of Byzantine Arta and even honor, since it is one of the oldest of its cultural heritage.

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