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3rd Route - Apozari

1. Saint Georgios of the State

Three-aisled basilica, with narthex on the north side. It is a short distance from Saint Stefanos. The first phase of the church was built in the 11th century and concerns only a small part of the eastern wall. There are other phases of construction, of which the most interesting is the 19th century. Renovation of the temple seems to have taken place during Ottoman rule, keeping the old apse of the sanctuary. At that time the temple was expanded considerably and decorated internally according to the mansions' standards. Its roof is vaulted, rests on wooden columns and houses the holy bank. Here, in 1083, when Alexios the 1st defeated the Normans, he became capitulated by General Palaiologos in the 3rd with Bryennius and gathered those of the Normans who joined the Byzantine army. According to a manuscript written by Grammatiko Papamantzaris during the period of Nikephoros' first archbishopric (1841), St George used to function as a metropolitan temple. After 1843 St. Thomas was operating as a metropolitan church, and after 1851, today's Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Again with the same source in this temple, weddings and funeral ceremonies were held by the city's rulers.

2. Church of Saint Stefanos

At the elevation between the two traditional districts of Kastoria with the mansions, Apozari and Doltso, is one of the oldest religious monuments of the Balkans, the Byzantine church of Agios Stefanos.

This is a small, three-aisled, vaulted basilica which seems that it was built in the middle of the 9th century. Its aisles are divided with pillars and are covered with semi-circular vaults. The middle one is particularly elevated and has windows, like a skylight, something that characterizes the basilicas of Kastoria from the Middle Byzantine period. On the east, at the conch, there is a rudimentary synthronon with the bishop’s throne, the only one in Kastoria. On the west there is a two-storey narthex, with stairs that leads to the second floor, the gynaikonitis, in which there is the small chapel of Agia Anna, the shrine, something that also can be seen only in this church. The portico on the northern and western side of the building is an addition that was made in the 20th century. The church’s masonry is characteristic of the monuments in Kastoria. It consists of rocks at their natural shape or heavily carved, surrounded by plaster, with tiles all around them, horizontally or vertically, and are alternated with compositions of tiles that create decorative letters or geometrical shapes.

The church is decorated with wall paintings that can be distinguished into three different periods. To the first, which dates from the end of the 9th – beginning of the 10th century, belong the wall paintings at the ground floor of the church and the narthex, as well as to some parts of the gynaikonitis. Special place among them have the scenes from the Second Coming at the narthex. From the second period mainly survive the wall paintings at the tall skylight, which according to their style they could date in the end of the 12th century and in the beginning of the 13th century. To the third period belong the numerous votive wall paintings, which are a special characteristic of the church. From these what stands out is the portrait at the narthex of the priest Theodoros Limniotis who provides a model of the church to Agios Stefanos.

3. Church of Saints Anargyroi

Near the district of Apozari, at the steep slope of the northern of Kastoria, is the impressive church of Agioi Anargyroi, one of the largest and oldest Byzantine churches of the city, which stands out due to its unique decoration.

It was built probably in the beginning of the 11th century, the period that is when Kastoria was occupied by the Bulgarians. Regarding the history of the church, information is provided by the inscriptions that mention its founders and the date of its renovation. According to these, Theodoros Limniotis and his wife Anna Radini renovated the church, which suffered a lot of damages through time; they dedicated the church to Agioi Anargyroi for the physical and intellectual health and salvation of themselves and their children, and funded the new icons that were made.

It is a three-aisled, vaulted basilica with a narthex on the western side. The aisles are divided with walls that have arched openings and the middle one is elevated with windows. Creating a skyline, like all the basilicas of Kastoria from the Middle Byzantine period. In addition, characteristic of the monuments of the city is the masonry of the church. Is consists of rocks at their natural size or heavily carved, surrounded by plaster, with tiles framing them horizontally or vertically and are alternated with tiles that create decorative letters or geometrical shapes.

At its interior the church is the only one in Kastoria that has rich marble sculpted decoration and impressive marble screen, from which only fragments survive. It was richly decorated with wall paintings that can be distinguished into two periods. Most of them date from the beginning of the 11th century and survive in fragments at the narthex, where the figures of agios Vasileios, agios Nikolaos, Agios Konstantinos and Agia Eleni stand out, as well as of the deceased Constanine. The wall paintings of the second period date from the years 1170-1180 and these include the depiction of the founder Theodoros Limniotis and his wife Anna Radini and their son Ioannis, with Virgin Mary in the middle. To the same period belong the few wall paintings that still survive at the façade of the church.

4. Virgin Mary Faneromeni

One-storied, 14-century royal basilica, which, according to historical sources, served as the katholikon of the Kinsterna's monastery. It is located on the northern side of the city and is built on a rock, near the destroyed Byzantine-era cisterns. A simple building, coated externally, does not allow us to observe the decoration of its masonry. Only the arch of the sanctuary testifies to a similar effort of decoration with the blind arches on its three sides. Inside, it retains frescoes of the second half of the 14th century. The quality of the painting is very good, but it is very difficult to study, because the frescoes are blackened by the smoke.

5. Taxiarches Apozari

The temple is located on Christopoulou street, on the northern side of the city, in the Odari area. It belongs to the parish of Saint Luke after the last reorganization of parishes in the last century. It is a three-aisled basilica with a narthex and a raised female figure. Externally, the temple, like most post-Byzantine temples of Kastoria, is of no particular architectural interest, it is built with common stonework without decorative elements. The temple was founded in 1622. Unfortunately, a very small part of the frescoes of this era have survived. On the eastern wall there are parts of performances, of which the following are distinguished: the vision of St. Peter of Alexandria and wholehearted forms of archbishops, of which only St. Andrew the Judge is recognizable.

6. Saint Nikolaos Tzotza

The rhythm of the small temple is a single-spaced, wooden-royal basilica. It is a Byzantine temple which in the years of the Turkish Occupation expanded its size to the south side, while at the same time the narthex of the monument was built. Its masonry at the low points is made up of masonry, while from the middle and above are used raw bricks. On the north side there was an open loggia, which also protected the exterior frescoes, traces of which have survived. Epigraphic material inside the monument does not exist. The Evangelismos of the Virgin Mary, the Hierarchs and Our Lady of the Heaven above the Sanctuary, are some of the frescoes that are still preserved in good condition.

7. The Presentation of the Virgin Mary (Panagia Tsiatsiapa)

One-roomed wooden-royal basilica leading east to a semi-circular niche. It is located in the traditional area of Odzari. Temple built on a rock with irregular stones and mud that belongs to time according to an inscription at the entrance of the temple at the beginning of the 17th century. The Temple since its foundation 66 was a monk of the Sinai Monastery for this and there is also a relative iconography of Mount Sinai on the western wall of the narthex. From the interior decoration of the temple, the Virgin Mary or Platytera survives in the niche of the sanctuary and in the two pediments the scene of Ascension and Metamorphosis. Narthex also preserves a pictorial program with the representation of the Future Crisis as well as a series of martyrs and forms of whole-saints.