Antiphonitis Church used to be the centre of an influential monastery. It was once the premier Byzantine monument in the Kyrenia hills. Because of its unusual design, it is thought to have been built by local artists. The church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was built in the 7th century. However the narthex to the west and the gallery to the south were added by the Lusignans in the 14th or 15th century.
The dome is placed on eight round columns which form an irregular octagon. The alter area was separated from the rest of the church by keeping two of the columns separated from the walls. Considering its features, this building is one of the finest of its kind in Cyprus to survive to the present day. The cloister arrangement in the south is a unique example of gothic stone work. However, nothing remains of the wooden upper covering or the stone parapet between the columns.
The building in its original form was fully covered with frescoes, most of which have unfortunately disappeared. Among the survivors, the Virgin Blachernitissa, with the figure of the Christ Child at her bosom and flanked by Gabriel and Michael, occupies the conch of the apse. Blachernitissa is unusual among Orthodox icons in that it is not flat, but is formed in bas relief. According to Sacred Tradition, the icon Blachernitissa was made of wax combined with the ashes of Christian martyrs who had been killed in the 6th century.
Archangel Michael is encountered once more holding a parchment script on the upper part of the detached north column. On the south-west wall of the nave the blue hooded figure of St. Anthony and the scene of the Baptism can be distinguished. On the lower half of the column on this side St. Endoxus and to the left St. Paul are placed.
Of its once vivid and notable frescoes, probably the most magnificent survivor, which can be found in the huge irregularly shaped dome, is the Christ Pandokrator. Represented inside a medallion surrounded by angels, he prepares to ascend the throne, with the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist in attendance. The twelve apostles and the prophets are also present.
That the frescoes here have survived at all is a minor miracle, as thieves have tried twice to literally cut the artwork from the walls. They succeeded once, but a second attempt caused the cut wall section to crumble into pieces on the floor, proving just how delicate these works of art really are. It is estimated that after 1974, over 20,000 icons and dozens of frescoes were taken from North Cyprus churches by unscrupulous looters and sold on the international art market. The scale of the problem was revealed in 1997, when Dutch art dealer Michel van Rijn informed on his former business partner Aydin Dikman. Dikman was found to have a store of mosaics, frescoes and icons worth in excess of $40 million. After agreeing to help the authorities, van Rijn bought four frescoes from Dikman, depicting the Last Judgment and the Tree of Jesse, which were reported missing from Anthipontis Church in 1976 and 1979.References:
Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.
Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.
The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.
The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.
The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.