Panagia i Kera Church in Crete, Greece

Even if you wouldn't guess it from the outside: The Panagia i Kera church is one of the most famous churches in Crete thanks to its fantastic murals.

The Panagia i Kera church is located very close to the typical Cretan village of Kritsa and was built in the 13th century. The three-nave domed church is surrounded by cypresses and olive trees and is a typical photo motif for Crete. The dome is unique on Crete and already shows the influence of the Venetians. The beautiful church is one of our top 10 sights in Crete.


PICTURES: Panagia i Kera Church on Crete

Photo gallery: Panagia i Kera Church in Crete

The inconspicuous little church must definitely be visited from the inside, and the few euros for the entrance fee are well worth it! Only then does it reveal its full splendour, because every square centimetre of wall inside is decorated with artistic frescoes.

The masterpieces of Byzantine art are the most important in Crete and have been restored for the most part. From schemes and rigid forms to expressive faces, all styles of Cretan fresco art are represented here.

In the Panagia i Kera church in Crete, Greece, all styles of Cretan fresco painting represented - © FRASHO / franks-travelbox
© FRASHO / franks-travelbox

The Greek Orthodox Church is dedicated to the Dormition of Mary, the Mother of God, St. Anne and St. Anthony. Its name translates as "Mother of God" or "All-Holy Lady". Its retaining walls reach down to the ground, giving the impression that the Panagia i Kera church is ducking into the earth.

Visit to the Panagia i Kera Church

In the central nave are the oldest frescoes of the Panagia i Kera church in Crete, Greece - © FRASHO / franks-travelbox
© FRASHO / franks-travelbox

The Panagia i Kera church, signposted in Kritsa, is a good 1km from Kritsa and has free parking. Just opposite is a small taverna where you can eat well and cheaply during your holiday in Crete.

Tip: There is no electric light in the church. A torch helps to get a good look at the frescoes.

In the central nave are the oldest frescoes. Like the church itself, they date from the early 13th century and are still sombre and stark. On the ceiling of the chancel is the Ascension of Christ, to the west are the Kings Solomon and David, in the dome vault the Entry into Jerusalem, the Baptism of Christ and the Raising of Lazarus.

The realistic depictions are particularly impressive in the infanticide in Bethlehem (very macabre) and in the great scene of the birth of Jesus. Thanks to the Venetians, St. George and St. Francis of Assisi were also painted in a Greek Orthodox church.


Lifelike figures in the south and north aisles

The south aisle of the Panagia i Kera Church in Crete, Greece, was built in the 14th century and is dedicated to St. Anne - © FRASHO / franks-travelbox
© FRASHO / franks-travelbox

Around 100 years later, the south aisle was built, which is dedicated to St. Anne, Mary's mother. Here the paintings are already brighter, more sweeping and the facial features expressive and lifelike.

The northern nave was the last part of the Panagia i Kera church to be built. It is not known exactly when, and the frescoes here are also the least well preserved. The Pantocrator, St. Anthony, the Last Judgement and the 12 Apostles can be seen. The founder of the north aisle, Georgios Mazizanis, is also immortalised with his wife and child - right next to the torments of hell of the poor sinners.

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