Old Panayia Kera church at Kritsa with the most complete and most famous palette of Byzantine frescoes preserved in Crete.
The Panayia Kera church is a three-aisled and dome-shaped church, with fantastic Byzantine frescoes. It is located along the road from Aghios Nikolaos about 0.5 miles (0.8 km) before Kritsa. The excursion is then also very practical with the adjoining, ancient Doric mountain town of Lato.
The church was constructed in three sections and the present center nave with the dome hall was built in the 12th century. The construction of the dome is unique in Crete since it clearly shows the Venetian influence.
On the other hand, the southern nave, consecrated to Saint Anna, as well as the northern nave, which is dedicated to Antonios, are covered with barrels of single-chambered chapels.
Within the beautiful church of Panayia Kera is perhaps the most complete and certainly the most famous palette of Byzantine frescoes preserved in Crete.
They are originally from the 14th and early 15th century. But since all were so often re-painted and reworked, it is impossible to accurately date them.
The frescoes at the southern entrance, through which one enters the Panayia Kera Church, show the life of Anne, the mother of Mary: her marriage and the birth of Mary, as well as the early life of the Virgin herself until her journey to Bethlehem.
The wall to the central nave is decorated with a long series of pictures with saints.
In the center of the church is the central nave, which is the oldest part. The frescoes originally date back to the 13th century. The story of Mary is continued and there are scenes from the life of Christ, including the birth of Christ, Paradise, the banquet of Herod, and an excellent representation of the Lord’s Last Supper. In the vault of the altar room, the Ascension of Christ as well as the Mother of God, the proclamation and the church fathers are depicted.
Near the main portal in the west are Saint Helena and her son, the Byzantine Emperor Constantine and the north-western pillar graces a portrait of Saint Francis of Assisi.
In the north side, there are quite fragmentary but lively scenes from the resurrection and the Last Judgment, together with the joys of paradise and chronological excerpts from the life of the saints (especially Saint Anthony). There is also a picture of an unknown saint in Cretan nationality clothes.
In the course of time, the large scenes were portrayed with small portraits of saints and apostles.
Opening hours during the season: Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm, admission 3 Euros. For an extra fee you can often have the frescoes explained by a guide.
Photos can not be made in the interior unfortunately and it’s a good idea to have flashlight ready to illuminate the frescoes and also the rather uneven ground during the visit.