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Church of Timios Stavros (Holy Cross), Pelendri

In the central part of Cyprus, in the mountains of the Troodos range, some of the most important monuments of the history of Byzantine painting have survived. These are painted churches which have preserved to this day brilliant examples of various trends of Byzantine and post-Byzantine monumental art, from the 11th to the 19th century. Ten of these churches have so far been granted World Cultural Heritage status by UNESCO.

The church of Timios Stavros is situated in a central area of the Troodos mountain range, at the south end of the village of Pelendri, which is attested in the sources since the late 12th century. In 1985 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List which included nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range.

Church of Timios Stavros (Holy Cross), Pelendri
Church of Timios Stavros (Holy Cross), Pelendri


The present form of the church is the result of several additions and alterations, carried out throughout various periods. Originally, it was a single-aisled domed structure, built around the middle of the 12th century and it is possible that it was the church of a cemetery. The original church was destroyed under unknown circumstances. Only the apse survived, which was incorporated in a new church of the same type, built at the end of the 13th or the beginning of the 14th century. This was the first of a series of interventions, where collapsing parts were either rebuilt or expanded. The north aisle is a slightly later addition but it clearly dates to before the middle of the 14th century, while the south aisle is a 16th century addition. The final result is a three-aisled structure with appealing proportions which manage to conceal its turbulent architectural history.

According to an inscription surviving in the apse, the original wall-painting decoration dates to 1171/2. Fragments of the decoration are preserved on the apse under the layer of the 14th century frescoes. They belong to a style rarely seen in the 12th century wall-paintings of Cyprus, but very common in contemporary churches in Capadocia, Greece and Crete.



Church of Timios Stavros (Holy Cross),
Pelendri: Wall paintings

The main part of the church of Timios Stavros was decorated during the second half of the 14th century. At least two artists belonging to the same workshop were involved, together with their students. Many donors contributed towards this decoration complex. From these wall-paintings we can distinguish a group which follows the Palaiologan style developed in Constantinople during the 14th century. A second group follows the contemporary local Byzantine tradition, enriched with crusader and Armenian features, both in terms of the style and iconography.



Church of Timios Stavros (Holy Cross),
Pelendri: Wall painting

The north aisle, which is more or less contemporary to the previous wall-paintings, served as a private chapel for the family of the Latin feudal lord of the area, Ioannes Lusignan (1353-1374/5). The wall-painting decoration of this aisle is a combination of western and Byzantine features, indicating that the Latin rulers of Cyprus did not necessarily have solely Gothic preferences in art.



Church of Timios Stavros (Holy Cross),
Pelendri: Wall painting







District Lemesos (Limassol)
Telephone 25552369, 99405434
Opening Hours Set by the church
Admission Free
Accessibility


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