The church of Panagia tou Arakos is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. Panagia tou Arakos used to be the katholicon (monastery church) of a monastery bearing the same name, which seems to have been built during the second half of the 12th century, when monastic life was flourishing in Cyprus. When Vassili Barsky, a Russian monk, visited the island in 1735, the monastery was almost abandoned and was only inhabited by three monks. According to other written sources, the monastery survived until the first decades of the 19th century. Today, apart from the church, a two-storeyed monastery building survives to the north, used as the priests' residence. It is not clear however, whether it was intended for the church to be a monastic one. Initially the church may have been a private chapel.
The church is a single-aisled domed structure with a cross-shaped roof. Sometime, probably in the 14th century, it was covered with a protective timber roof with flat tiles. The steep-pitched roof extends beyond the main structure on three sides, thus forming a portico with latticed woodwork. The dome is covered by a separate wooden roof, a feature which is unique amongst the churches of Troodos. During the 18th century, the west wall was demolished and the church was extended.
The entire interior of the church is painted. According to an inscription above the north entrance, the church was decorated with the donations of Leon Afthentis in December 1192. The paintings are of exceptional quality and follow the late Comnenian style constituting the most complete series of frescoes of the Middle Byzantine period in Cyprus. Both the style and the iconographic programme express the trends of the art of Constantinople. Bearing in mind that almost nothing survives from this period in the Empire's capital, one realises how important this monument is in the history of Byzantine art.
It is believed by some that the painter is Theodoros Apsevdis, the same artist who in 1183 painted the Enkleistra of Agios Neophytos in Pafos. Two portable icons, which represent Jesus Christ and Panagia Arakiotissa and are exhibited in the Byzantine Museum of the Archbishop Makarios III Foundation in Lefkosia, come from this church and are attributed to the same painter.
The frescoes in the apse of the bema are of a different style to those in the rest of the church, and it is believed that they were painted by another artist a little earlier than 1192. A rarity worth noting is the depiction of the seven Cypriot saints painted on the semi-cylindrical apse wall. The Virgin on the blind arch above the north entrance and some other scenes were painted in the 14th century. The church was decorated for the last time in the 17th century and it is during this last phase that the Saints on the exterior north wall and the wooden iconostasis, which dates to 1673, were created.References:
The Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls was part of the federal sanctuary of the three Gauls dedicated to the cult of Rome and Augustus celebrated by the 60 Gallic tribes when they gathered at Lugdunum (Lyon). The amphitheatre was built at the foot of the La Croix-Rousse hill at what was then the confluence of the Rhône and Saône.
Excavations have revealed a basement of three elliptical walls linked by cross-walls and a channel surrounding the oval central arena. The arena was slightly sloped, with the building"s south part supported by a now-vanished vault. The arena"s dimensions are 67,6m by 42m. This phase of the amphitheatre housed games which accompanied the imperial cult, with its low capacity (1,800 seats) being enough for delegations from the 60 Gallic tribes.
The amphitheatre was expanded at the start of the 2nd century. Two galleries were added around the old amphitheatre, raising its width from 25 metres to 105 metres and its capacity to about 20,000 seats. In so doing it made it a building open to the whole population of Lugdunum and its environs.