The church of the Metamorfosis tou Sotiros (Transfiguration of the Saviour) is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List , which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range.
It was erected at the beginning of the 16th century and it belongs to the single-aisled, timber-roof typechurches of the Troodos region. The narthex, which was added by the beginning of the 17th century, extends to the west and south sides of the church and is covered by the same timber roof.
The interior of the church is entirely covered with wall-paintings. These date to the beginning of the 16th century, and constitute one of the most complete groups of wall-paintings of the Late Byzantine period in Cyprus. It is the most important example of the work of a group of painters of the Venetian occupation period, who remained attached to traditional Byzantine art, whilst having limited western influences. It is the same kind of art which we observe during the 16th century in various Greek lands under Ottoman occupation.
The unknown artist was influenced by the art of the Palaiologan period but at the same time kept his own style with some influences from western art. The artist seems to have been very capable and a master in the drawing of standing human figures.
On the external side of the west wall of the church there are some later wall-paintings, dated to 1612. The wooden painted iconostasis dates to the beginning of the 18th century. Most of the portable icons are dated to the same period and are the work of painter Mathaios Koutloumousios, a monk from Mount Athos.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).