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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Saint Theodoroi Church, Mystras

Saint Theodoroi Church, Mystras by Joy of Museums

Saint Theodoroi Church, Mystras

The Church of Saint Theodoroi in Mystras Peloponnese is the oldest and largest chapel in Mystras. It is located in Kato Hora (lower town), the lowest part of Mystras Old Town. The constructed started in 1290. Initially, it was the main church or cathedral of a monastery, and then it became a cemetery church. The architecture of the church is a variation of the usual Byzantine architecture with an octagonal dome.

Frescos at Saint Theodoroi Church, Mystras by Joy of Museums

The interior of the church has impressive frescoes that date from the 13th century, such as the portraits of the Emperor Manuel Paleologos. Unfortunately, the dome collapsed, and the church was deserted until it was restored in the 20th century, so many of the frescos were lost. A few of the visible saints depicted belonged to a battalion of armed saints that covered to lower walls and were composed to be at eye level with the faithful to reassure them.

The ancient custom of burying the dead outside the city walls was the custom of the earliest Christians. However, burials within a city were officially allowed in the late 9th century AD. Christians then started grouping graves together in graveyards which were typically around their churches. In late Byzantium, tombs inside churches became standard for the elites. In this church, there is also the tomb of the Despot of Peloponnese Theodore I.

Gemistus Pletho

One of the more famous people to have worked and died in Mystras was Gemistus Pletho. He died in about 1452, however, in 1466, some of his Italian disciples, stole his remains from Mistra and interred them in the Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini, “so that the great Teacher may be among free men” because at this time the Byzantine Empire had fallen to the Ottomans who had overrun Greece.

Georgius  Plethon (1355/1360 – 1452/1454) was one of the most renowned philosophers of the late Byzantine era. In Mistra, he taught and wrote philosophy, astronomy, history, geography, and studied the classical writers. He pioneered the revival of Greek scholarship in Western Europe and made Plato’s ideas accessible. Despite suspicions of heresy from the Church, he was held in high Imperial favour.

In his Book of Laws, which was only circulated among close friends when he was alive, he promoted the return of ancient wisdom of the Greeks, Zoroaster and the Magi.

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Saint Theodoroi Church, Mystras

  • Site:                Saint Theodoroi Church, Mystras or Church of Agioi Theodoroi
  • Constructed:   1290
  • Site:                Mystras
  • Country:         Greece

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“Happiness can only be achieved by looking inward and learning to enjoy whatever life has and this requires transforming into gratitude.”
– Saint John Chrysostom

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Photo Credit: JOM

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