The Byzantine church of the Holy Apostles is located at the start of Olympou Street, near the city's western medieval walls.
As evidenced by remnants of a column to the south of the church and a cistern to its northwest, it originally formed part of a larger complex. Consequently, it appears that the church was originally built as the katholikon of a monastery.
The date of its construction is not entirely clear: the founder's inscription above the entrance, the monograms in the capitals and other inscriptions refer to Nephon I, Patriarch of Constantinople in 1310–1314, as the ktetor. Another inscription on the eastern wall commemorates the same patriarch and his pupil, the hegumenos Paul, as first and second ktetores respectively. Recent analysis using carbon-14 however points to a later date for the entire structure, ca. 1329. A depiction of the hegumenos Paul kneeling before Mary, as well as a series of Marian scenes lead to the conclusion that the church was dedicated to Mary, perhaps to be identified with the Monastery of Theotokos Gorgoepikoos.
The building belongs to the type of the composite, five-domed cross-in-square churches, with four supporting columns. It also features a narthex with a U-shaped peristoon (an ambulatory with galleries), with small domes at each corner. There are also two small side-chapels to the east. The exterior walls feature rich decoration with a variety of brick-work patterns.
The interior gives a very vertical impression, as the ratio of height to width of the church's central bay is 5 to 1. The interior decoration consists of rich mosaics on the upper levels, inspired by Constantinopolitan models. These are particularly important as some of the last examples of Byzantine mosaics (and the last of its kind in Thessaloniki itself). Frescoes complete the decoration on the lower levels of the main church, but also on the narthex and one of the chapels. These too show influence from Constantinople, and were possibly executed by a workshop from the imperial capital, perhaps the same which decorated the Chora Church. They were probably carried out under the patronage of the hegumenos Paul, after 1314 or in the period 1328–1334.
With the conquest of the city by the Ottoman Turks, in ca. 1520–1530 the church was converted into a mosque with the name Soğuksu Camii ('Mosque of the Cold Water'). As was their usual practice, the Ottomans covered the mosaics and frescoes with plaster, after they removed the gold tesserae. The church's modern name, 'Holy Apostles', was not attributed to the building until the 19th century.
Restoration and the gradual revealing of the frescoes began in 1926. After the 1978 earthquake, the building was strengthened, and in 2002, the mosaics were cleaned up.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.