Photographer's Note

The church of Agia Paraskevi is located in the village of Geroskipou, 3,5 kilometres east of Pafos. It is considered to be an extremely significant example of Byzantine architecture dated to the 9th century. It has not yet been established whether the church stands on the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite. According to tradition, the name Geroskipou ( "sacred garden'") derives from the sacred gardens of the goddess, which were located to the south of the village towards the sea, at the point where the ancient pilgrims began their journey to the sanctuary of Palaipafos. It is quite possible that the church was originally dedicated to Timios Stavros. Nowadays however, it is dedicated to the Christian martyr Agia Paraskevi.

The church's architectural plan belongs to the type of the five-domed, three-aisled, barrel-vaulted basilica. The largest of the three domes is above the nave and the other two are above the centre of the aisles, to the north and south of the central dome of the nave. As far as the exterior of the church is concerned, it resembles the church of Agios Varnavas and Helarionas in Peristerona and to a lesser degree the churches of Apostle Varnavas near Salamina and Agios Lazaros in Larnaka.
A small domed tetraconch is affixed on the southeastern end of the church. The tetraconches were widely used during the Early Christian period, either as martyries or as baptisteries. Probably during the 19th century, the church’s west wall was demolished and the church was extended. The original entrances to the church were probably located on the west wall.

In the interior, the church of Agia Paraskevi is decorated with wall-paintings dated to various periods, from the 8th-9th, 10th, 12th up to the 15th century. During the course of cleaning and restoration work on the surviving frescoes by the Department of Antiquities in the period between 1974-1977, a monochrome reddish cross of an earlier type was revealed, painted directly on the stone, on the south wall of the north aisle. This type of cross is usually dated to the Early Christian period, up until the 8th-9th century.

On the eastern dome of the middle aisle an aniconic representation survives with a gemmed cross as a central theme, framed with two decorative tiers with spirals and geometric motifs. The cross, which is located in the centre of the dome only preseves the ending of its arms. As the cross was the most common symbol of the Iconoclast period, the year 843 is considered to be the terminus ante quemfor the building of the church. It should however be mentioned that aniconic wall-paintings were used in the decoration of provincial churches up until and including the 12th century.

The next wall-painting phase dates to the 10th century and was revealed underneath the 15th century layer of wall-paintings. The fresco depicting the Dormition of the Virgin, located in the tympanum of the north blind arch, is dated to the 12th century. The fragmentary scene depicting the Platytera between the Archangels, located in the conch of the apse, dates to the same period. The surviving 12th century frescoes were also found underneath the layer of the 15th century wall-paintings. The last decoration phase of the church is dated to the 15th century and its frescoes can be seen on the central dome of the nave.

In the church of Agia Paraskevi, apart from the frescoes, a rather significant portable icon, dating to the 15th century also survives. It is painted on both sides. On one side the Virgin in the type of Odegetria is depicted, and the anonymous painter follows Palaiologian prototypes. On the other side the scene of Crucifixion can be seen, depicted in the prototype of western tradition.

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Additional Photos by maria varipati (maria-v1981) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1192 W: 30 N: 1940] (10966)
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