A remarkable Early Byzantine church, dedicated to the Archangel Michael, can be seen near the village of Kato Episkopi, in the area of Kissamos. In the early Christian years, it was the seat of a Bishops’ see. In the 6th century AD the church took the form it has today, and it has been in use continuously since then.
Its architecture is impressive, unique in the whole of Crete. It has a narthex with a large dome and surrounding rooms. A stone baptismal font is to be found in one of these spaces, where worshipers of the Early Christian years were christened.
Important works of art of exquisite craftsmanship from this period survive today in the church, such as the mosaic floors that represent geometrical patterns, as well as the unique sample of monumental painting of the Early Byzantine period to be found in Crete.
The church walls were re-painted for at least five times in the subsequent centuries; the12th century frescoes stand out amongst them, featuring excellent representations of the Virgin from Blachernae (Panagia Vlacherniotissa), the Archangel Michael, other saints, as well as various scenes from the Gospels. The style of these frescoes is related to that known from the artists from Constantinople.
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