Frescos, a visual bible for the illiterates.
The first frescos date from the period of the Byzantian empire, around the 4th century AD. It started as a visual bible for the illiterates who were able to understand the story of Christ this way.
In the beginning, two basic colours were used and until the 12th century the paintings were simple. After that, they slowly but confidently started to use more colours but the images remained without personality, meaning that the faces of the saints did not show any emotions. This remained until the 13th century but in the 14th century a big change took place. All of a sudden they started to use bright colours, especially light green and light red and also the faces showed emotion.
The painters were anonymous, with the exception of a few famous painters from Constantinople that were invited to Crete by rich farmers to decorate their churches. The frescos were painted in a set style which is also used today.
In the cupola of the church you will always find an image of Jesus Christ, also called the ‘Pantokrator’. ‘Pantos’ means ‘always and everywhere’ and ‘krator’ means ‘ruler’.
In the four corners of the cupola there are always the four Evangelists; Markus, Mattheus, Lucas and Johannes, as a communication between heaven and earth.