Church of the Holy Apostles
St. George settlement (Agios Georgios)
The settlement of St. George, in the northern part of the prefecture and center of the former Kapodistrian Municipality of Heraklion, is located at an altitude of 800 m. As accepted by foreign excursionists, Greek archaeologists and the to date information, the settlement’s area is of archaeological interest dating from prehistoric to post-Byzantine times. The key position of the area played a decisive role, as it supervised the wider area and gave access to arable lands and proximity to land and river passages. The settlement seems to have flourished since the late classical period while the habitation mainly extends to the western side. The found inscriptions indicate the existence of an organized urban unit, a city of the kingdom of Macedonia and of the imperial times, the identity of which still remains unknown. This view is also supported by the building relics of public buildings – possibly remains of sanctuaries – architectural parts, votive bases, altars, fragments of inscribed columns, votive reliefs and statues, grave goods. Among the findings, a statuesque type from the Roman times stands out that copies an original sculpture and depicts Demeter (α type of the great Heraklion woman). It represents a standing female figure with a covered head, wrapped in a robe, a tunic, while one arm is bent at the chest height. In addition, an excellent example of metalwork is a bronze helmet jaw that depicts a winged Victory with a tunic, a spear and a shield.
During the Ottoman period, Islamized Christians, the Balaades, moved in the settlement, which is mentioned in a code of Zavorda under the name Tsourhli, preserving the Christian element. The Balaades left the settlement after the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne regarding the exchange of the Greek and Turkish populations in 1924. The aga of the Bekir region (Bekir Fikri Yarbey), who had, also, origins from Tsourchli, played an important role in the historical events of the time in Western Macedonia and he is considered as the main culprit in the assassination of the Metropolitan of Grevena, Emilianos, in 1911.
The contribution of the “Charitable Brotherhood of Tsourchli citizens of the Province of Grevena, the New Martyr George” was of great importance upon the preservation of Greek education and religion and it was founded in Constantinople around 1860: As early as 1863 it is mentioned the existence of a Primary School, a Grammar School in 1899, an Urban School in 1902 and a Girls’ School in 1908.
The economic prosperity due to the trade growth with the Danube countries and the relative freedom, also, contributed to the rise of the arts and especially of the folk painting and hagiography in the settlements of Voio, Samarina and Tsourhli by the Bakola family.
A religious attraction of and not only of the area is the church of the patron saint St. George, part of his remains is kept in the temple. Saint George, in honor of whom the settlement was given its modern name in 1927, was born in Tsourhli in 1808, martyred in Ioannina in 1838 and is the patron saint of the presidential guard. The iconography of Saint George the Younger, depicted in a fustanella clothing, shows the face of a saint, known in the popular consciousness, who became a symbol of the liberation struggle and a model for the national empowerment of the slaves.
Church of the Holy Apostles
It is a three-aisled vaulted basilica with a narthex to the west, built in 1836 according to an ownership inscription. The apse of the sanctuary has pessaries with blind arches. At the beginning of the 20th century the temple extends to the west. The main entrance of the church is located at the south side. It has a perimeter decoration with stone carvings, while above it a shallow niche is formed with a depiction of the revered Saints Peter and Paul. Inside the church they are preserved remarkable post-Byzantine frescoes, in a part of the south wall and in the arch of the middle aisle, which according to a surviving inscription were made in 1857 by the local hagiographer from Tsourchli, Nikolaos Bacolas. Remarkable is the stone iconostasis, a unique one in Grevena, a sample of creative assimilation of Western influences, from Baroque and Rococo to Neoclassicism.
Accessibility: Due to a short staircase the church is not accessible for those in a wheelchair or with mobility difficulties.