Πέμπτη, 12 Ιουνίου 2008
The church of Panagia Paraportiani is a Byzantine temple built at the location Kastro, the medieval Castle of Mykonos town, also known as Hora or Chora. The church took the name Paraportiani because of its location. It is next to the Castle door, the "paraporti", i.e. the postern gate, the small side gate of the castle. This is actually the most photographed monument on the island, as well as one of the most photographed churches in the world, a symbol and a landmark of Cycladic folk Architecture. It is an inspired architectural complex of five churches. Four of them are on the ground and one on the roof, elevated, that being Paraportiani itself. All churches have internal communication. The ground floor of the complex consists of Ayios Efstathios, to the east, touching on two of the three churches built in a line: Ayioi Anargyroi, the oldest, in the middle, and Ayios Sozontas to the west. To the south the chapel of Ayia Anastasia touches on Ayioi Anargyroi.
The main church, the Paraportiani itself, is built above Ayios Efstathios and is reached by an exterior stone staircase on the east side. It is conjectured that the complex was built gradually during the 16th and the 17th century, but most likely even earlier. Its interior ornamentation is not of real importance but it is of major architectural importance.
The passage of time, and chance, have contributed to the formation of the external morphology, creating, through deterioration and damage, a unique aesthetic whole.
It should be noted that, although Mykonos is internationally known for its nightlife and tolerance and also for the international celebrities and the super rich people it attracts, in certain circles it is particularly appreciated for the unique and exemplary architectural style, that was developed through the instinct, the observation and the talent of the locals who found solutions and answers that could help them overcome life's circumstances and such adverse natural phenomena and forces as the strong, merciless, northern winds and the direct sunlight or the Summer heat. After all Mykonos is the place of which the famous French architect, Le Corbusier, said when he first visited the island: "Whatever Architecture had to say said it here!.."
Paraportiani with its lines and curves and such a plasticity as if it weren't built by humans but by Nature itself is certainly a monument that justifies Le Corbusier's remark. On the other hand it also brings immediately to mind a remark made by a Greek intellectual from the island of Hydra, Th. Vokos, who, upon seeing from the deck of his approaching boat the all white Mykonos town, in between the blue sky and the blue sea, said that this was a "white blaze".