Shop Forum More Submit  Join Login
Cathedrals of the empire by BricksandStones Cathedrals of the empire by BricksandStones

This is the medieval, Byzantine cathedral in Kiti (Cyprus). It is one of the most precious, Byzantine monuments on the island because parts of the building, including a golden mosaic preserved inside, date from the late 6th or early 7th C. AD. That is from the time before the birth of Islam, when Roman empire still dominated the Eastern Mediterranean and its greatest foe in the East was Zoroastrian Persia.   Much of this ancient church, however, was destroyed during early Arab raids of the 7th an 8th C. so that most of the Byzantine building that you see today date from the 11th and 12th C. when Cyprus  became an important supply base, providing resources and manpower supporting Byzantine and crusader armies in Syria and Palestine.

Despite Cyprus’ importance, as the main bridge representing Byzantine influence in the East, the cathedral in Kiti is far smaller than many contemporary, Latin cathedrals in the West. Indeed, with few exceptions, such as the Hagia Sophia in Kiev, later medieval cathedrals of the Byzantine world were much smaller than contemporary, monumental edifices in the West, for example in Chartres, St Denis, Durham or Bamberg. Part of the reason for this, is because bishops had a bit different role in Byzantium, than in the Latin Christendom and the Byzantine empire had a much more dense network of dioceses than the West. In other words, there were far more Byzantine bishops who, as a consequence, were poorer and resided in far smaller cathedrals than their counterparts in Western Europe. Cyprus illustrates this difference very well:  as a Byzantine province, the island had 14 bishops while after it was conquered by the Latins, the number of dioceses was decreased to four, at least two of which, had enough resources to construct large, lavish cathedrals (Nicosia and Famagusta). Latin bishops, therefore, were wealthier and more distant from ‘common folk’ whilst Byzantine, orthodox bishops were numerous and served as leaders of smaller, often  rural communities. Thus, Byzantine ecclesiastic dignitaries of Cyprus remained deeply connected with the Greek communities that supported them and resided in much humbler, though not less beautiful, churches, such as the one in Kiti.

Add a Comment:
 
:iconediacar:
Ediacar Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow, I didn't know that one, it's always a pleasure to discover those unknown jewels scattered across the Mediterranean!
Plus I'm currently on the hunt for every proto-byzantine remains and I just googled the mosaic dating from that period you're talking about and it is extremely nice!
It's one of the consequences of having such a behemoth of a city like Constantinople, it sucked all the wealth that could've been used to build big monuments in the provinces (though, given the very poor demographic situation of the empire, having big churches never was a priority, I think).
Although, they were a bit closer to one another, the relationship between the official clergy and the common people in the provinces wasn't that great either as far as I'm aware.
The clergy wasn't really respected by its flock, at least not as much as the monks (who's provocative behavior toward the authorities made very popular, actually, it's even more obvious when you look at all the donations the aristocrats gave to the monasteries, they rarely sent money to the official church) because the priests were usually some random people with some fortune who received a basic formation and most of the time worked as a peasant just like anyone else in the village, so his charge wasn't very esteemed while the bishops themselves ran establishments and did commerce and were more or less members of the local "bourgeoisie".
Also, the metropolites and bishops, especially in time of invasions, preferred to reside in the safety of the big cities and weren't that much more close to the population than their Latin counterparts (but there are instances were the local bishop replaced the government officers of his area, so some did stay and became the representative of the Romans who fell under foreign control after the imperial officials had ran away.
Reply
:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018
Wow, thank you very much for taking the time to write such a long, interesting and informative comment - it is always a pleasure to hear from you! Now, about your comment, I think the difference between the image that you portray, and the one that I tried to convey in my description is the result of different perspectives. I think your comment refers more to the period before the rise of Islam, when Byzantium was still controlled large cities of the Eastern Mediteranean. My perspective is anchored in the later medieval period from the 11th to 15th C. when there were far fewer large Byzantine cities (roughly speaking, apart from Constantinople, only Thessaloniki were relatively large). If you look at Byzantine cathedrals of cities that were prominent at that time - for example in Arta (depotat of Epirus), Trabzon, Nicea or Mistra - these were all relatively small buildings. Also, my perspective is anchored in islands such as Cyprus (I did my Phd on Latin Cyprus), Rhodes or Crete where there were far more Byzantine dioceses that Latin ones and bishops, to my knowledge at least, were closer connected to rural communities because they lived in villages.... You are of course right, arguing that monks as well as 'Holy Men' and 'Holy women', were more closely connected to ordinary people than bishops - however, I think this point comes across much stronger in the context of Syria, Asia Minor and Egypt in the early period, prior to Islamic conquest, than to later medieval period in areas such as Agean Islands.... how do you think?

Still, I agree that my description, which is anchored in 12th - 13th C. Cyprus, may not fully reflect the situation of other Byzantine provinces, particularly in the earlier period - thank you once again for the comment - it is a pleasure to have these discussions and read your comments! All the best!
Reply
:iconediacar:
Ediacar Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Oh no, I wasn't implying that your description was meant to reflect the situation beyond Cyprus (it's perfectly clear the way it is).

I'm indeed talking more about the Byzantine heartland, Asia minor and the hellenized parts of the Balkans rather than the islands which, especially in the case of Cyprus are far off from the cultural centers of Romania and so can't be treated the same way as the provinces closer to Constantinople. Plus, even if the term "empire" implies some sort of uniformity every region had its own specificity anyway BUT, it's still possible to do some broad generalizations (which, I agree can be a bit hazardous but still they reflect a general tendance). 
So, actually, I was thinking more of the mid byzantine era more than the early one. Basically, after Iconoclasm when the byzantine church stabilized its administration and framework.
Actually the rising animosity between monks and the "official clergy" played an increasingly important part in the later centuries. You might have heard of the hesychast crisis which plagued the final years of empire in the fourteenth century? To simplify it, it was a fight between the more intellectual clergy impregnated with humanist ideas and the monks who were against deep analysis of the scriptures which were seen as to be "beyond human comprehension" I'm oversimplifying it but you get the idea, the conflict between the clergy and the monachists has always been there in Byzantium but at that point, it became so deeply rooted that it changed dramatically orthodoxy when the palamites won the controversy.
The poor quality of the provincial clergy is also proved by their commercial transactions, most of them couln't even sign with their own name. And, there are no known example of someone from the rural clergy that was promoted to bishop because only the cities of bigger importance supplied them (Constantinople and the region of Bithynia mostly for Asia Minor). 
I might not have explained myself very well, but I actually completely agree that building programs were very limited and of small scale in the provinces (again, small populations so, no need for big cathedrals, plus the dynatoi had their own private churches and preferred to spend their money either building palaces or founding monasteries in preparation for their death, plus, the emperors rarely commissioned new buildings, they'd rather restore old churches instead of funding new ones).
In the case of Arta and Trebizond yes, compared to western cathedral, these aren't of very impressive size. But still, compared to what the Byzantines usually built, they're still pretty big. The proof of their importance is seen too because they all date from after the fourth crusade, so they were built during a period when the rulers had imperial pretensions to the Roman empire, so they made the biggest churches they could according to their resources.
As for Mistra, the churches there are small because, well, the despots had a hard time collecting taxes from the Peloponnesians and Mistra was a tiny fortress, not a fully developed city.
So that's for the mid to late byzantine era but, I don't know how much the Frankocratia modified the situation in Romania proper and the region of Constantinople, you're the authority in that department ^^

Also, forgot to ask, during the latin occupation of Cyprus, do you know if the population accepted easily its new religious structure, because I never heard anything about local uprising against the latin occupants after Isaac Komnenos was kicked from the island?
Reply
:iconjoepingleton:
JoePingleton Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018   Filmographer
Fantastic location and photograph
Reply
:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018
I am very glad you think so! Thank you, it is always a pleasure to get some positive feedback - thank you again and all the best!
Reply
:iconcrawfordjenny:
CrawfordJenny Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018
Beautiful castle.
Reply
:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018
I am glad you think so! Thank you very much for viewing this image, I really appreciate it! Just to clarify, it is not really a castle but rather a medieval church - it did not have a military role though knights certainly prayed inside :) Thank you again!
Reply
:iconnaji2004:
naji2004 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018
Oh wait Cyprus
Reply
:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018
Yes, indeed, it is in Cyprus, although there are some beautiful medieval churches in Lebanon (there is one in Saida and a couple in Amioun). Cyprus also has a historic community of Maronites - some of them are even members of Cypriot parliment.... Thank you very much for showing interest - I wish you all the best!
Reply
:iconnaji2004:
naji2004 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018
Okay
Reply
:iconnaji2004:
naji2004 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018
Is that in Lebanon or something
Reply
:iconzerrbild:
Zerrbild Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Seeing this catgedral reminds me of when I studied the Byzantines at University.I infact chose to answer an exam question about the reign of Basil 'The Bulgar Slayer'.From the information contained in your description I think Kiti Cathedral was already established before Basil's reign.I think he emperor in the mid 9th Century
Reply
:iconzerrbild:
Zerrbild Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Apparently Basil II lived later than I previously said.His reign was from 976-1025 AD
Reply
:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2018
Yo studied the history of Byzantium during your studies? How interesting! The reign of Basil 'The Bulgar Slayer' represents one of my favourite period s in the history of Byzantium - the great 'Empire strikes back' moment :) Of course, I pitty the Bulgars as well as Armenians, who also suffered from the Byzantines at that time,  but it is nice to see Byzantium on the offensive, for a change... Usually the empire was focused on defending its borders, rather than expanding them.... You are, of course, right regarding the chronology of Kiti, a cathedral was already standing there at the time of Basil the Bulgarslayer though only parts of this oler building survive to this day... Thank you very, very much for taking the time to view this, read the description and comment - I really appreciate it! Also, I am sorry for taking so long to reply! All the best from Warsaw!
Reply
:iconzerrbild:
Zerrbild Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for your informative reply.
Its nice to meet someone who's interested in Byzantium and history as a whole!
Reply
:iconartlovr59:
artlovr59 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018   Photographer
Lovely shot. I like the angle it's taken from. The historical background is also very interesting, thanks!
Reply
:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018
It is always a pleasure to get some positive feedback from you :) It is a very gratifying experience, thank you very much! I am sorry if I am a bit overly direct, but my I ask how come you became interested in Byzantine heritage? I am sorry, do not feel obliged to answer, I am just curious... Anyawy, thank you very much once again and all the best from Poland!
Reply
:iconartlovr59:
artlovr59 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018   Photographer
Oh, you're very welcome! No, don't worry about being direct. My family is from Hungary and as you know, as long as there was a Byzantine Empire (and an independent Hungary) the two had a key relationship, mostly peaceful. A lot of Hungary's national symbols, like the double cross, are from Constantinople. Then I also have Greek friends and I just see it as a part of history and culture, you know?
Reply
:icongaston3-italia:
Gaston3-italia Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Bellissimo. Great shot! 👍🏻
Reply
:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018
Thank you very, very much! I am very glad you took the time to view this, thank you again and all the best!
Reply
:icongaston3-italia:
Gaston3-italia Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
This is a beautiful picture. My pleasure! 😁
Reply
:iconakitku:
akitku Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It's a very beautiful building. Maybe it is smaller than Latin cathedrals, but it is beautiful nonetheless. Byzantine domes are just so pretty...
Reply
:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2018
I couldn't agree more! Some of the relatively small Byzantine churches can be far more beautiful than imposing large churches in the West. They can be more balanced and well proportioned whilist some of the large churches in the West (I can think of a number of examples from Germany or Poland) are just large and somehow, less elegant.... anyway, thank you very much for viewing this - I am very glad to see that you still visit myy gallery sometimes!
Reply
:icondavidmnr:
DavidMnr Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2018
A beautfiul architecture!
Reply
:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018
I am glad you like it :) It is a pleasure to see that others also appreciate Byzantine architecture :) Thank you very much and all the best!
Reply
:icondavidmnr:
DavidMnr Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018
always interesting
a pleasure!:)
Reply
:iconyulianeruannonoldor:
YulianEruannoNoldor Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2018  Professional Artisan Crafter
Wows... :)
Reply
:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018
:) :) :) Thank you for viewing it! :) :) :) Cheers!
Reply
:iconbillyaustria:
BillyAustria Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
A beautiful shot of the building, I really love it!
Also thanks for providing us with the info about byzantine church structures - I wasn't aware of these characteristics :)
Reply
:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018
Thank you! It is honestly a great pleasure to see that you took the time to view this and that you find the description interesting :) Especially since part of the text refers to Cyprus which is my favourite part of the Eastern Mediteranean. Once again, thank you very, very much and all the best!
Reply
:iconchristophf:
christophf Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2018
thnx!
Reply
:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2018
:) It should be me thanking you ! :) All the best!
Reply
:iconarte-de-junqueiro:
Arte-de-Junqueiro Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2018
Lovely shot / building!! Thanks for the information - have been in Cyprus many times (business and pleasure) but not visited Kiti
Reply
:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2018
Wow, I envy you that you get to visit Cyprus for work! Unfortunately for me, since I moved to Poland, my work no longer has anything to do with Cyprus (few official institutions in Poland are interested in Cyprus :( ). I would love to work there once again! Kiti is very close topt Larnaca so it is relatively easy to access, there is also a Latin, Gothic chapel there added in the 14th C., Inside there is a nice, gothic tomb slab with a carving of a noble lady, member of Cypriot Latin nobility... Anyway, thank you, as always, for visiting my gallery - I really appreciate it!
Reply
:iconarte-de-junqueiro:
Arte-de-Junqueiro Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2018
Yes, I know roughly where Kiti is - just never got the opportunity to be able to visit - so many other things to do and time alone was always rather short.. ;-)
Reply
:iconahappierlife:
ahappierlife Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2018
Fascinating - there's perhaps a slight contradiction in the idea of a magnificent church. They're not meant to be magnificent - they're meant to be a place where people recognise the greatness of God in genuine humility. Local leaders know their people - who can lead people they don't know?
Reply
:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2018
Good point! I must admit I usually have conflicting feelings about this sort of things. On a one hand, I totally agree with you, churches should not be too monumental and lavish because they should reflect the role of the church as the servant of God and should serve their local communities. On the other hand, however, I think some of the lavish decoration of churches, whether Byzantine, Latin or other, can be very beautiful. I admire expensive, golden mosaics, decorative tracery and sculpture etc....Than, naturally, if a priest, abbot or bishop is overly wealthy, than naturally he or she losses contact with the poorer members of their parishes.... I do not know, I suppose, I think there should be a healthy mix between these two type, rich and poor, though that might be simply too much, people might not need that many churches (especially these days....) Anyway, thank you very much, as always, for taking the time to comment - I am always glad to hear from you! All the best!
Reply
:iconahappierlife:
ahappierlife Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018
All the best to you too, friend!
Reply
Add a Comment:
 
×




Details

Submitted on
September 11
Image Size
2.1 MB
Resolution
2816×2112
Link
Thumb

Stats

Views
443
Favourites
135 (who?)
Comments
38
Downloads
16