Kokkini Ekklisia( Red Church)


Kokkini Ekklisia or Panagia Vellas is one of the most important monuments created by the glorious dynasty of the Komnenoi in the 13th century in Epirus.

It is located in the village Paleochori, 3 km south of Vourgareli. It was built in 1281, ie it was earlier than that of the church Parigoritissa in Arta,financed by Theodoros Tsimiskis, the Protronist of the Byzantine Court. It is a cruciform inscribed temple with a single three-sided apse and a tri-partite narthex.

Academic Anastasias Orlandos mentions about  the name: The name Red Church is obviously due to the lively red color of the bricks,of  which the wall painting of the temple consists .It is also called the “king monastery”, probably because it was once the katholikon (main temple) of a royal monastery which, when abandoned, became a dependency of  the monastery of Vella, hence the name.

In the frescoes(1295) that are kept in , which are barely preserved,  saints and lay people are depicted, such as the owners Theodoros Tsimiskis and his wife Maria, his brother John and his wife Anna, the rulers  Nikephoros and Anna.

The temple is dedicated to the Birth of Virgin Mary and celebrates on 8th September.