Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Corfu then and now 6: The Paleo-Christian church across the Mon Repos gate

   Yesterday, I came across a very interesting image posted by an old photo collector in a Facebook group about old Corfu. On first sight, I didn't recognized the church shown in that documentary 1880 photo but after reading the comments posted by some members, I found out that it is an image showing the interior of the paleo-christian church which now is in ruins, right across the Mon Repos estate gate. It came as a suprise to me that this ancient church was still in perfect condition in late 1800s. What happened to it?

The church relics as seen from the satellite
    Let's have a quick look into the church's history. The Paleo-christian church of Paleopolis was built in 463 AD by the bishop of Corfu, Iovianos. The church was built in the very heart of the ancient Corfu town, next to the roman forum site, across the roman baths and very close to the ancient port of Alkinoos. The church was built on the site where a roman temple once stood. Its materials had been used to built the christian church. The church had been destructed in the 6th century by the barbarians but soon it had been restored to its former glory. In the 15th century the ancient basilica was owned by a monastery dedicated to Virgin Mary. It was mercilessly bombed by the german Nazis during the Second world war and since then it had not been rebuilt.
    The church is a basilica with wooden roof. In the 1880 image below, perhaps the unique photograph showing the church's interior intact, we can see clearly how simplistic but in the same time, beautiful was that building. I think it is time the local Church authorities raise some money to renovate it, using the image below as a reference. It is a pity, one of the oldest churches in Greece to be in such terrible condition!
The church in 1880 - as you can see, it was in excellent condition!
The same view nowadays
Some images taken from the "Corfu tour" page 

- A virtual tour of the interior by the site.

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