Church of Panagia (Our Lady) tis Asinou, Nikitari

Church of Panagia (Our Lady) tis Asinou, Nikitari


The church of Panagia Phorbiotissa, better known as Panagia of Asinou, is situated in the north foothills of the Troodos mountain range. It is built on the east bank of a stream, three kilometers south of the village of Nikitari. In 1985 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. 

Panagia Phorbiotissa used to be the katholicon (monastery church) of the Monastery of Forbion, as its name implies. According to the dedicatory inscription above its south entrance, which is dated to 1105/6, the church was built with the donation of Magistros Nikephoros Ischyrios.

The church consists of two parts: the vaulted single-aisled nave and the narthex, which is a later addition belonging to the second half of the 12th century. The narthex with its two semi-circular apses belongs to a type directly influenced by Constantinople. Already from the 12th century a steep-pitched timber roof, covered with flat tiles, sheltered the church. Today no traces of the rest of the monastic buildings survive. 

The interior of Panagia Phorbiotissa is entirely covered with wall-paintings, which vary in date. The earliest group is dated to 1105/6 and it expresses the (then) latest style of the Comnenian period. These frescoes reflect the art of Constantinople, which is thought to be the artist's birthplace, and they are one of the most important groups of Byzantine art of this period.

The narthex was decorated with mural paintings soon after its erection during the second half of the 12th century, and in 1332/3 it was redecorated following strong Frankish influences. In its iconographic programme, we distinguish the large number of donors. In the same church there are also some later frescoes, dating to the 17th century. (Source)