North of Chalcis

The main shore-road north from Chalcis leads through an unattractive commercial area which blends seamlessly with Nea Artaki. Just short of Nea Artaki (at 4km) a left turn leads down to the shore beside the promontory of Manika. The flat, projecting tongue of land—or island, as it was then—the gentle shoreline and fertile land behind, constitute a familiar configuration of geography for early settlers. Although there is little to see here, this was the site of an important Early Helladic settlement (3rd millennium bc), the finds from which are to be seen in the museum in Chalcis (Room 1). Archaeological examina tion has centred on the neck of the tongue of land, but the extension of the settlement spread considerably inland.
   At the junction in the road 11km from Chalcis, is the statue (1975) by Theodoros Papagiannis of Angelis Govi os, hero and general of the Greek Independence revolution, who was born in Limni, and is buried in Psachna (church of Aghios Ioannis). The road splits here between the twin settlements of Kastella and Psachna (13km). The right-hand branch passes through the centre of Psachna, 3km due north of which is the hill of Kastri­ crowned by a Venetian castle, and 5km northeast of which is the monastery of the Panaghia Makrimalis. From Kastella, the principal road continues towards the north of the island. After 3.5km a side-road heads east to the monastery of Aghios Ioannis Kalyvitis, dedicated to the 5th century Constantinopolitan saint, John Kalyvitis, the ‘hut dweller’.

The monastery buildings are new, but the catholicon is a small, freestanding, early 12th century church of consider able interest. Its upper areas have recently been restored, but the west door conserves its magnificent marble jambs, which are composed of four sections of * ancient entablature carved with an exquisite running frieze of palmettes. Other fragments, both ancient and Early Byzantine, are assembled in the area, some incorporated in the structure itself. The ‘cloisonne’ brick and stone-work in the church’s three apses is particularly beautiful.

Beyond the junction for the monastery, the road north begins its long climb towards Pagondas, Prokopi, Limni (62.5km) and the north of the island (see previous section), offering wide views back over the Euboean Channel and Chalcis.
   The road west from Kastella skirts the coast and heads towards the attractive village of Politika (20.5km), considered by some scholars to be the site of Ancient Aigai below the southeastern slope of the Mount Kandili massif. The skyline is dominated by a high 13th century Frankish tower whose south face incorporates several antique marble elements in the window-frames. The holes for fixing construction scaffolding are still clearly visible. Above the village is the monastery of the Peribleptos built around a small, domed, cruciform church originally constructed in the 11th century, though later rebuilt in the same form in the 17th century. Elements from the original structure are incorporated, such as the carved marble cornice over the west door. The interior is entirely decorated with 17th century wall-paintings of considerable character and interest, enlivened throughout by a brilliant red, minium pigment. The marble support of the iconostasis is also a good example of 17th century carving with elegant, Byzantine decorative motifs such as cypress, rosette and wreath.

Euboea Island, Greece

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