Church of Ayios Nikolaos of the Roofs
Kakopetria, Church of Ayios Nikolaos of the Roofs
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The church of Ayios Nikolaos tis Stegis is situated in a central area of the Troodos mountain range, in the upper Solea valley. It is built on the west bank of the river Klarios/Karkotis, at a distance of about two kilometers southwest of the village of Kakopetria. In 1985 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range.
The church is a domed cross-in-square structure and was originally without the narthex or the timber roof which covers both the nave and the narthex. This later steep-pitched roof, which carries a type of flat tile common in the area of Troodos, gave Agios Nikolaos the nickname 'of the Roof' ('tis Stegis') at least since the 13th century. The narthex was added at the beginning of the 12th century, whilst later additions and alterations changed the original appearance of the church and often resulted in the destruction of significant wall-paintings.
The interior of the church is decorated with frescoes belonging to various periods, which cover a time span of over 600 years. This entirely painted church has justly been described as a museum of Byzantine painting. The oldest phase of the mural decoration is dated to the 11th century and it is the most important set of wall-painting which survives on the island from this period. The paintings include scenes from the Dodekaorton (the life of Jesus), the Raising of Lazarus, the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, isolated figures, etc. The next phase is dated to the 12th century and it includes wall-paintings from the southwest part of the church, the narthex and elsewhere. The composition of the Forty Martyrs and the figure of Ayios Nikolaos are worth mentioning.