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Gates of the Aegean by BricksandStones Gates of the Aegean by BricksandStones

This is an evening view of the medieval, Byzantine church of the Virgin Hodegitia in the upper city of Monemvasia (modern Greece). It was constructed around 1150, during the reign of emperor Manuel Komnenos – that is during the last period, when Byzantine empire was still a dominant force in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was the apogee of Byzantine power under the Komnenos dynasty – under emperor’s rule, the Byzantine armies marched across the Levant from Antioch and Aleppo in Syria all the way to the Balkans in the West. The emperor’s wife at a time, was a Latin princess, Maria of Antioch and the Byzantine court was a major cultural center drawing inspirations from both Eastern and Western traditions – it is said for example, that the emperor himself participated in ‘knightly tournaments’ that were to develop as a major attraction in the western chivalric cultures.

In order to maintain that power, the empire had to retain firm control of its core region – the  Aegean Sea which served as the heart of the Byzantine realm.  This is why Monemvasia was important – it was a fortified city and port, perched on the edge of a cliff at the far end of the Peloponnese. It therefore served as a bastion, guarding the entrance to the Aegean, keeping its waters safe for example from the Norman navy of king Roger II of Sicily who unsuccessfully attacked Monemvasia in 1148. The position of the church of the Virgin Hodegitria, the patroness of the city, reflects this role well – it overlooks the Aegean sea, keeping watch over its waters now, just as it did almost 900 years ago.

 

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:iconrhipster:
rhipster Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Hobbyist Photographer
Ah, I remember Monemvasia I visited 3 or 4 years ago...
Monemvasia by rhipster
...but the access to the church was closed due to works in progress (!) .
I'm glad to see it now throug your photo. Thanks :)
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:iconnausetsouth:
NausetSouth Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2018
This is a stunning image. And thank once again, so much, for your insight.
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2018
Wow, it is good to hear from you! Thank you very much for visiting my gallery again and for your kind words! I am very glad you like this view :) When I was doing my BA, my greatest dream was to buy a house in Monemvasia and live there with my partner... Well, I never got the house, but at least I have images :) Thank you very much once again and all the best from Warsaw!
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:iconhermetic-wings:
Hermetic-Wings Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
I met your wonderful phot5ograph on a journal once again and noticed how beautiful it is once again. :clap:
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2018
You are very kind - thank you very much for providing such positive feedback - it is a great motivation for me to stil be active on DA :) Thank you once again and all the best!
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:iconhermetic-wings:
Hermetic-Wings Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
You are very welcome dear friend. Surely we will meet you soon on your latest submissions :D
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:icondashinvaine:
dashinvaine Featured By Owner Edited Oct 10, 2018
Very charming style of architecture. Manuel seems to have been a fairly good ruler, with a somewhat productive relationship with the crusaders. I believe he and Amalric of Jerusalem even planned a joint campaign against Egypt (though dealing with the Turks in Anatolia probably should probably have been prioritised above that.) They also jointly sponsorred the renovation and decoration with mosaics of some of the holy sites in Outremer, such as the Church of the Nativity, if memory serves. 
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2018
As usual, you are right. I think Manuel had great plans and ambitions on many fronts but rarely managed to fullfil them. I remember reading about Manuel's great expedition to Syria. He took the great imperial army to the East and managed to subdue Antioch -  the paraded across the streets and local, Norman elite paid him homage. However, even though his presence in Syria raised great hopes for local Christians, despite having ambitious plans, Manuel did not manage to secure any meaningful gains agains Muslim rulers in the region - above all, he did not conquer Aleppo so his great expedition had no lasting impact :( Still, the mosaics in Betlehem are beautiful so his involvment in the East had some positive consequences :) As always, thank you very much for providing such well informed feedbak - it is a pleasure to talk about these things :) All the best!
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:iconhermetic-wings:
Hermetic-Wings Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
The point of view is so nice to capture the magnificante of the momumentary chruch. the colours adds much :D
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2018
Thank you - I know you are a talented photographer yourself with a good eye for capturing beautiful colours so I am very proud that you like the colours here  :) thank ou very much once again and all the best!
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:iconhermetic-wings:
Hermetic-Wings Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
:iconfreemanbowplz:
 I must be the who thanks dear friend for your very warm compliments. Please keep up the good jopb and take good care :D
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:iconpeterdomanic:
peterdomanic Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
That's a beautiful place. Nice shot !
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2018
I am very glad you like it! Thank you very much!
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:iconpeterdomanic:
peterdomanic Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
My pleasure 😊
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:iconsannwald:
sannwald Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
Wonderful perspective, and I love how the tones of building and foreground intermingle and the tones of clouds, water and horizon finally fade into spray. 
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2018
I am very glad you like it :) I was there with my wife and indeed, we were very lucky, it was the first day of Autumn and the colours were really beautiful that day... I am glad that this photo shows at least some of that beauty :) Thank you very much for taking the time to view this and comment - I appreciate it!
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:iconsannwald:
sannwald Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
It does. I like if the air itself seems to carry fine graduations of colours, and this is what, among other details and the sight itself, happens in your photo. :)
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:iconcyklopi:
Cyklopi Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018
Absolutely beautiful! 😊
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2018
I am very glad you think so! Thank you! Indeed, Monemvasia is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to (I would love to visit it again one day...). Once again, thank you very much and all the best!
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:iconwoodsman2b:
woodsman2b Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018
The sentinel over the Aegean Sea... Beautiful ! :D

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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2018
Yes, imagine standing there and viewing Norman or Venetian war galleys approaching the Aegean from the West - it must have been quite a sight! I am very glad this caught your attention, to be honest, this photo is almost 10 years old - I just feel nostalgic recently and wanted to revisit my memories from there.... :) Thank you very much for the comment and, as always, I wish you all the best!
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:iconwoodsman2b:
woodsman2b Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2018
Trips are unforgettable, they create memories for an entire life !
I still remember my first visits with my mum...Paris, Rome, Athens...
Now they have the taste of nostalgy too...
I imagine well what you feel about going through your memories
from such a beautiful place that is Monemvasia ! :)
Thank you for sharing and I wish you all the best too !

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:iconmeflysbyseatofpants:
MeFlysBySeatOfPants Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Beautiful snap!!  The pastel clouds really blend in with the brick and rock!!
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2018
I am glad you like it! It was the first day of Autumn, the weather was rapidly changing from increbibly hot to relatively cold and the light was really beautiful that day... Thank you very much for viewing this and taking the time to comment - I appreciate it! All the best!
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:iconmeflysbyseatofpants:
MeFlysBySeatOfPants Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
My pleasure!
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:iconediacar:
Ediacar Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Excellent shot! The church looks really good in the light of the the sunset! (though it seems to have taken a bit of a beating in certain places :()
I didn't know that it was Manuel who commissioned it, for some reason, I always thought it was Alexios I (the walled city is just beyond the cliff, isn't it?).
Highlighting how it was used to protect the Aegean is a very good point too! The firm control the Italians had in Greek waters at the time might lead some to believe that the emperors were somewhat complaisant about it. But in reality Alexios, John, Manuel and Andronikos all tried with various degrees of success to re assert roman naval control in the area and Monemvasia is a great example of that active policy.
It's interesting that you mention tournaments because in a passage of Skyiltzes, there's the description of one which took place in the hippodrome of Constantinople during the reign of Theophilos, and since it might be the very first recorded joust in medieval history, what we all associate so much with western knights could well have an eastern origin actually.
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2018
I was hoping this might catch you attention :) Thank you for viewing it! Monemvasia is one of the most beautiful medieval, Byzantine sites I have ever seen - the setting of the city is remarkable! To be honest, I am not sure if it was Manuel who comissioned it - the church was certainly built under Manuel's reign in the mid. 12th C. but it is nor sure if the emperor was directly involved. Inside the church, there is a donor inscription but it is partially damaged so it does not reveal the name of the donor, nor does it specify whether the donor comissioned the church or merely its mural decoration. Also, I read that the dedication to Hodegitria reflects the growing, urban character of Monemvasia - supposedly churches dedicated to Hodegitria were founded in growing, new urban centers outside of Constantinople....

I was not aware that there were 'jousts' in the Constantinople during the reign of Theophilos - very interesting! To be honest, I think that some kind of 'tournaments' or other form of fight spectacles were probably organised in almost every society from various chronological periods, whether Antique, Early medieval, or later. I am not sure if any of them can be seen as the rightful 'source' of the chivalric culture. I think these sort of things develop indipendently of each other (for example, I am pretty sure that adult men organised fights between themselves in Poland even before the 13th C.... Anyway, thank you very, very much for yet another, fascinating comment - it is always a pleasure to hear from you!
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:iconjarchitect:
JArchitect Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018   Photographer
Woderful
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018
:) I am glad you like it :) Thank you for stopping by!
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:iconjarchitect:
JArchitect Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2018   Photographer
Tnxs to you
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:iconsunniebelle:
SunnieBelle Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Really beautiful shot! 
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018
I am glad you think so! The light was really beautiful that day... Thank you very much for the comment!
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:iconsunniebelle:
SunnieBelle Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
You're very welcome! :D
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:iconmilielitre:
MilieLitre Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018
Such a perfect place for a church and a watch tower! Is the inside also preserved?
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018
To be honest, I have not been inside because the church is not open to the public, at least it was closed during the few days when I was there. However, I have seen photos of its interior - most of the original walls and chambers, like the sacristy, are preserved but there are few medieval frescoes inside. There is an inscription recording a donor, who donated money to the church but not much more. Thank you very much for asking - I am glad this caught your interest! 
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:iconmilielitre:
MilieLitre Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2018
I found some pictures on google, and there's not many frescoes left indeed. It's a shame since the ones that reached us are stunning! Byzantine art is always beautiful!
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:iconyun77:
Yun77 Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
It is a really good place to go for sure
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2018
Yes, even though Greece is a popular tourist destination it still has some relatively remote places which are rarely visited and beautiful.  I would love to Monemvasia once again one day... Thank you very much for taking the time to view this and comment - I appreciate it!
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:iconyun77:
Yun77 Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Lately I took time to comment when I found something pretty good.;) (Wink) 
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:iconlooking4work:
Looking4Work Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2018
Excellent  photo! Thanks for this historic background!
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018
I am very glad you like it :) Thank you for taking the time to view this and comment - I appreciate it!
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:iconmiirex:
miirex Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
Malownicze miejsce, świetna praca.
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018
Miło mi to słyszeć :) Dziękuję!
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:iconmiirex:
miirex Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
Bardzo proszę.
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:icondksponge13:
dksponge13 Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Fun little fact; According to Greek mythology, the Aegean was named after King Aegeus, the father of Theseus, after he threw himself into the sea believing his son was killed by the minotaur.
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018
You are right! I did not remember that until you mentioned it - indeed, this is a fascinating story though I always felt sorry for Ariadne.... thank you for viewing it and taking the time to comment - I appreciate it! All the best from Warsaw!
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:iconchristophf:
christophf Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2018
thnx for a info about our european roots
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018
I also think of Byzantine culture and history as part of our shared heritage. It is good to know that I am not alone in thinking so :) Thank you very much!
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:iconchristophf:
christophf Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2018
You right
Its more mine than Tatars in Poland or arabian soldiers in France
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