SIGHTSEEING IN LEFKADA
Some of Lefkada’s best features are its churches. They include basilicas, with the influence of Venetian architecture, usually adorned with iconography in the traditional Ionian (late-Cretan) devotional style and with beautifully sculpted wooden iconostases , some in gold leaf.
Most were built between the 17th and 18th centuries, their configuration finally determined from about 1836. The iconography was by notable devotional painters, of which only a few of the best known are Doxaras, Patsaras, Roussos, Ventouras, Gazis, also from Kefallonia: Rifios, Karantinos, Miniatis and more. Metropolitan bishops and prominent parishioners were buried inside the churches and some tombstones, usually of marble, are still legible today. Other parishioners were buried in the churchyard until the time the town’s Municipal Cemetery was built.
The processions of the Easter bier (Epitaphios) and the litanies are an occasion to see the treasures of church ornaments brought out to wind through the streets, preceded by the priests in glittering vestments: the discs with the figures of angels (hexapteryga), the standards, labarums, the banners of the guilds (called skola), the canopy – the baldachino – of gold-embroidered velvet covering the holy symbol. Guilds had their own fund, every year they elected their chief or master-craftsman, and had a patron saint, who was depicted on the skola, which was deposited in the church of his or her name for safe-keeping. The holy symbols (Crucifix, cross, standards, labarum and canopy) were carried with the skola at the head of processions, the head craftsmen, holding burning candles, walking behind the other dignitaries, followed by the remaining senior guild members with their families. Nowadays the skolas belong to the churches
Capitolario: This is a volume deposited in each church from the time of its consecration. It is a book written in calligraphic lettering, illustrated with the relevant holy icon. According to the historian Mahairas, it is the ‘charter’ governing the relations of the congregation of the faithful as co-parishioners, parishioners and the like, and every other issue of significance regarding liturgical ceremonial or proprietorship. Events concerning the church that took place after its establishment are also recorded in the book.
Some of the churches most worth a visit:
• Aghios Spyridon. In the central square.
• Aghios Nikolaos. Situated a short distance from the central square.
• Aghii Anargyri. Surrounded by a precinct, it stands in the middle of a small orchard in Markà Square
• Tis Yperaghias Theotokou tis Evangelistrias. Close to the Prefectural Hospital
• Ton Eisodion tis Theotokou
• Aghion Mina, Victoros ke Vikentiou (All the above are on the main road of the Agora).
• Panaghia ton Xenon On Aghia Paraskevi Street, near the Public Library.
• Aghios Dimitrios A treasure to be discovered in a side street.