Artemonas

An exploration of * Artemonas best begins at the plateia by the church of Aghios Kostantinos (1km north of the junction in Apolloni­a), where the bus stops and vehicles have to be left: the town has only pedestrian traffic. With a quieter and more refined air than Apolloni­a, Artemonas was favoured latterly as an area of residence by the richer ship-owners and captains of Siphnos; there are a number of 19th century houses, walled gardens with venerable trees, and a succession of graceful squares that descend the hill, creating an ensemble of great architectural and natural beauty.
   The church of Aghios Konstantinos, standing on its own to the southeast of the plateia, presents a wonderfully plastic and typically Cycladic form. It is a three-aisled structure, massively buttressed on the north side, with a belfry and an erratic staircase rising to the roof externally from an odd protrusion in the northwest corner. The interior was redecorated in the early 20th century but con serves a number of interesting ‘vernacular’ icons in its iconostasis: to the right of the ‘Royal Doors’, on the lower level, is an unusual subject treated in vernacular style. The panel has been partially cut down. It depicts the story of Nebuchadnezzar, who is visible wearing a crown, bottom right: an angel protects Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3. 25) in the fiery furnace, bottom left; the image in gold in the centre is that of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel, 2); at the rear he is seen living as an animal in the desert for seven years (Daniel 4. 33).
   From the western end of the plateia, a marble-paved street climbs up to the right, passing between two of the island’s grandest neoclassical residences: that to the left (recently restored) has magnificent Classical pilasters and lintels framing its windows, contrasting with the fluid forms of the wrought iron balconies in front; that to the right has an almost Palladian design, built on a raised dado—its pure white Classical form offset by a dense stand of wind-sculpted pines that crowd around it. Further on, after a left turn in the street and opposite a walled garden of citrus trees, is the church of the Panaghia of Ammos (1788), with traditional flat raftered ceiling and an elaborate iconostasis. At the centre of habitation is the church of the Dormition of the Virgin, known as the Panaghia Kochi (‘Virgin of the Niche’), which is believed to stand on the site of a temple of Artemis. The church has a curious design with a breadth greater than its length: the effect of this is further enhanced by the marble iconostasis in grey marble from Tinos (created by Stephanos Bloukos in 1900), in front of which relics are displayed in cases. The churches which lie further up from here, such as the ‘Panaghia tou Bali’ of 1854, are mostly of later date and of less interest. Returning back to the bakery at the western end of the plateia, the street which continues straight on returns to Ano Petali and Apolloni­a, and is bordered by a number of stately neoclassical houses built in the period of prosperity created through shipping commerce at the beginning of the 20th century.

Siphnos or Siphnos Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.

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