Historic Temples

Coordinates: 40.787626, 21.081828

Church of Agios Achillios

At the enchanting landscape of the Small Prespa, on the island of Agios Achillios, surrounded by the special natural environment of the lake, stands in ruins the church with the same name, the most important of the Byzantine monuments in Prespes.

It was constructed in the decade of 980 by Samuel, the tsar of the Bulgarians, to house the relic of Agios Achillios, bishop of Larissa. When he captured Larissa, Samuel transferred the relic to Prespa, in order to provide the necessary sacred character at the capital of his new state and at the same time he transferred craftsmen from Larissa to construct the church, which became the seat of the Bulgarian patriarchate. After the re-occupation of the area by the Byzantines, in 1018, the church became dependent on the archbishopric of Ochrid. In 1072 it was looted by Alemanni and Frankish invaders and became desolate for a while, but it continued to functions as a bishopric at least until the middle of the 15th century and the area around it was the cemetery of the Byzantine settlement.

The church is large in dimensions and belongs to the type of three-aisled wooden roofed basilica, with the large narthex which had five entrances. Its walls are built with limestone and its floor is paved with large relief limestone plates which have been used elsewhere before. At its interior, the aisles were separated with two series of pillars, while the altar area was divided with a marble screen. At the diaconicon there is the reliquary of Agios Achillios and on the southern aisle they have uncovered four marble burial reliquaries which contained the bones of prominent men and impressive findings, like a silk golden embroidered textile with representations of eagles. On the walls of the church there are the remains of wall paintings of the 11th and the 12th century. At the altar area there are twelve arches painted with a red color, which write the seats of bishops of the Archbishopric of Ochrid. The few representations of the 12th century, figures of military saints, of Virgin Mary and one angel, they have been removed from the walls and are exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Florina. 


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Holy Metropolis: 
Florina, Prespes and Eordaia

Under the Supervision of: 
Archaeological Service of Florina

Agios Achillios 53077




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