The church St. George represents one of the rarest and most valuable testimonies of Byzantine art in the Balkan Peninsula. Its fresco-painting represents an original and a unique peak of artistic mastery in the times of Comnenus, who ruled the Byzantine Empire from 1081 to 1185.
The church is located on the beautiful lower slopes of Pelister mountain (National Park Pelister) with a magnificent view on Prespa lake that connects North Macedonia, Greece and Albania and creates the only triple border on fresh water in Europe.
St. George church was built in the 12th century, in the village of Kurbinovo, during the reign of Isaac II Angelos. The decoration of the church started on 25th April 1191, according to the original inscription from the fresco “Honorary table” in the north part of the altar which is almost completely preserved.
The single-nave building with a semicircular apse is 17 meters long and 7 meters wide. It is the largest single-nave church in North Macedonia. The exterior, with its simple and austere architectural style, contains an unsuspected pictorial richness.
The fresco-painting in the interior of the church is divided into three zones. The frescoes illustrate scenes from the life of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary. In the altar apse, the composition Annunciation is painted, that has made this church exclusive and a part of the annals of the peak achievements of the Byzantine fresco-painting. Interesting and rare are the depictions of Jesus Christ and the patron of the church, St. George, from the north and the south wall, with a monumental size. On the west facade, there are visible remnants of frescoes with depictions of the unknown donor of the church, together with the imperial couple Isaac II Angelos and his wife Margarita, as well the figure of the archbishop Johan Kamatir.
The continuity of the importance of the church is witnessed by some later additions on the southern façade, as well as by the presence of a scene of St. Demetrius, on the north wall, executed at the end of the 16th or the beginning of the 17th century.
It is very likely that the church was abandoned in the 17th century. During the 19th it was rediscovered, and in the first decades of the 20th century, the wooden ceiling of the Kurbinovo church was replaced and a porch was built. The southern and the northern entrances were closed and transformed into two windows. These interventions did not damage the murals.
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.