Churches, churches and more churches.

Click on picture to enlarge.

We saw many churches maily built during the Byzantine period (before the 14th century) . They were clearly built in the same style f.i. with domes not .spires, with a combination of bricks and other stone material. Inside the shape is cruciform (cross shaped) with the altar and the holiest part to the east. This part is closed for the congregation with a wall completely covered with icons, the iconostasis. It is one door in the center of the wall for the priests. The people are standing in the nave which is often heavily decorated with frescos. The churches have names after a saint. (End of lecture!)                       It is forbidden to take pictures inside the churches, but I took a couple anyway.

Here is an iconostasis:

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The first picture to the right of the door is always of Jesus, the second of John the Baptist. To the left is always Mary with Jesus as a child and then the local saint.

This church is on a hill outside Skopje with a great view. It is named after St. Pantelejmon, the patron og physicians and is built in the 12th century.

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The most striking fresco is this:

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It is, I have been told, the first time human emotions like grief are shown in a Pieta, and this is many centuries before Giotto

This church is in a small village Staro Nagancane north in Macedonia and is named after St. George. It was heavily decorated with frescos.

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Here is a church from a monastery for nuns. (They sold schnaps in small bottles)

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This is a monastery by Lake Ohrid name after St. Naum. He and St. Clement made the groundwork for the Cyrrlic alphabet. What was special was that a number of peacocks lived in and around the buildings.

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The church with the best location is this:

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Named after St. John it sits on a small plateau overlooking Lake Ohrid.

As a teacher I learned that “more of the same” very rarely works, and this goes for churches (and mosques). It is difficult for a visitor to see and appreciate the differences after  a few visits, while the expert surely would love it. So I only remember  part of all the information we got and experienced (it could be my age). I remember the painting with grief, the peacocks and the iconostasis. But here again, just like visiting Myanmar with Bhuddism and Iran with mosques and the awakening of religion in former atheistic countries, I cannot help thinking about the role religion had and has in peoples lives. Are we all searching for explainations and hope?

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