Around Loutsa

The wide area below Di­rfys is dotted with 12th–14th century rural churches, many with painted interiors. Several lie in the area of Loutsa and Katheni (6 and 8km respectively west from Steni­). In Loutsa, follow the road which drops down southwest of the church of the Theotokos in the main square for 600m to find the 13th century church of Aghia Paraskevi­—a small and isolated, barrel-vaulted chapel with three arches, heavily buttressed to the south side. (The door is opened by pulling the wire to the right hand side.) In the fine 16th century paintings in the interior, there is an impressive array of saintly physiognomies along the lateral walls, surmounted by narrative scenes; the clearest paintings are on the west wall where the Last Judgement unfolds in every detail, with the presence of the Almighty represented by the small window through which the light enters the church, and from which a river of fire descends. This simple but poetic device—symbolising the presence of the Almighty by an opening with natural illumination—is a pleasing example of the humbleenuity of these rural Byzantine painters. From the top of the village of Loutsa, by following the signs (right) for the restored church of Aghios Dimitrios, then right again for 500m, you come to a small, cruciform church beside a plane tree known as Palaia Panaghia (for which the key should be obtained beforehand from the Pappas in Steni­). The windowless structure—now supported in a concrete frame to keep it standing—probably dates from the 12th century. The interior has extensive wall-paintings of possibly a couple of centuries later, whose current condition impairs their legibility. To the north of Loutsa is the entrance to the majestic Agali Gorge, whose waters descend straight from the southern slopes of Di­rfys, which rises 1500m unimpeded to the summit directly above.

Euboea Island, Greece

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