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My Seven Wonders- Eleni Souroulidi

As a Humanities student, Eleni Souroulidi visited the Byzantium museum, the Islamic museum and the Mystra site. She saw rare artifacts, unusual paintings of saints and uniquely structured churches. She got a deeper understanding of the connection between natural environment and architecture and she also learned how to identify particular parts of a church by using specific terms. Seeing and learning so many different things, Eleni chose seven of her favorite artifacts.


HOTO/SKETCH On my visit to Mystra with the humanities class on October 20, 2012, we looked at many antediluvian churches. The one I liked the most was the church of Perivleptos. It dates back to 1350 and what makes it unique is the fact that the aps is on the northwest façade instead of being on the east. This is because the church is connected to a mountain range. The masonry on the aps is enclosed brick and the rest of the structure is made out of rubble. Perivleptos has its own chapel with its own dome. What struck me the most about this church were the well preserved frescoes. ARTIFACT #3 PHOTO/

While observing the frescoes in Perivleptos, the one \ which caught my eye was The Nativity. The difference between this fresco and the icons usually KETCH found in Byzantine churches is the portrayal of the humanistic idea. The Nativity depicts human figures instead of Saints. Therefore, it breaks away from the rigidity and perfection which are present in the typical Byzantine icons. What struck me in particular was the perceived movement that resulted from the curved lines of the bodies. The fresco gives a sense of volume from the use of light and shadow. What makes this fresco one of my favorites is the symbolism is carries. Specifically, the cave surrounding Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus symbolizes the actual cave within Periplevtos.

The last church we saw on the Mystra site was the Holly Theodores church which was built SKETCH 1290 to 1296. What is interesting about between this structure is the octagon floor plan. The church has a great dome which is supported by eight arches. These arches form the octagon, unlike the usual cross-in-square churches. Holly Theodores’ masonry combines rubble and enclosed brick. Unfortunately, we were unable to see the church’s interior, however, we peaked through the window and we saw that all the frescoes were gone except for a depiction of Virgin Mary in gold.Without the frescoes, the walls of the church looked lighter and fortified.


One of my favorite field trips with the Humanities class /SKETCH was the one at the Islamic museum since it was the first time I was ever exposed to this type of art. The artifact that most struck me was “The Luster Ware” (the Golden Plates). What I found particularly interesting about this artifact was that in the Islamic religion, people are not allowed to own golden objects and objects which depict humans and animals. The color of this plate resembles that of gold and the figures portrayed are humans drinking wine. The reason why I liked this artifact so much is because it went against all religious restrictions, showing the human temptations in life.

Visiting the Byzantine museum with the Humanities class, I found several artifacts very interesting but the double sided icon of St. Catherine was the one that impressed me the most. This icon dates back in the second ARTI FACT half #6 of the th 14 century and it is from Berroica. I liked this painting the PHOTO/SKETCH most because of the fact that it was unusual. St. Catherine is depicted as a saint; instead, she is more like a queen because she is wearing a crown and jewels.

Visiting the Islamic museum I also learned that the Arabs were great mathematicians for their time. They were the first to invent the astrolabe, a very useful tool that was used on ships to measure distance. This instrument had various mathematical components and symbols and could be used by people of different countries. Through this field study I learned that the Arabs not only had a big influence in Art but also in Science and Mathematics. ARTIFACT #7 PHOTO/SKETCH

Going into the section of the Byzantine museum which exhibits artifacts after the fourth Crusade (1204), a development in art is evident. The painting which clearly shows this progress is the one portraying St. George. This painting dates back to the 13th century and it is from Kastoria. St. George is portrayed in relief, a technique which was not typical at the time. The borders around the painting illustrate scenes from St. George’s life, another atypical art technique for that time period. This painting demonstrates more depth perspective which is seen in art after the fourth Crusade.