The Church of Saint Nicholas Orphanos is an early 14th-century Byzantine church in Thessaloniki.
The church's name, 'Saint Nicholas the Orphan', is first attested in the 17th and 18th centuries, and presumably refers to its otherwise unknown ktetor (founder). From its interior decoration, the building is dated to the period 1310–1320. The church originally formed part of a monastery, traces of which (remnants of a gate) survive to the east.
The church was originally built as a simple, single-aisled edifice with a wooden gabled roof. Later, aisles were added on three sides. They form an ambulatory, under whose floor several graves have been found. The masonry features irregular layers of brick and stone, with a few ceramics on the eastern side and brick decoration on the eastern and western sides. In the interior, the central aisle is connected to the others with double openings decorated with reused late antique capitals. The church's original marble templon survives.
The church is most notable for its frescoes, contemporary with the church's construction, which cover almost the entire interior surface. The frescoes are an example of the Thessalonican school at the height of the 'Palaiologan Renaissance', and their creator may be the same who decorated the Hilandar monastery in Mount Athos in 1314. The church has been linked to the Serbian king Stephen Uroš II Milutin (r. 1282–1321), who is known to have sponsored churches in the city, on account of the depiction in the main aisle of St George Gorgos, the Serbian ruler's patron saint, and of St. Clemens of Ohrid, a favourite motif of the Serbian churches.
The monastery continued functioning throughout the Ottoman period. The frescoes were uncovered in 1957–1960 during restoration works.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.