Ο ναός του Αγίου Χαραλάμπους ΚαλαμάταςPart of : Δελτίον της Χριστιανικής Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας ; Vol.34, 1992, pages 77-96
The Church of Ayios Charalambos in Kalamata
The monument in question has been mentioned byother scholars in the past (Bon, Millet, and Kalokyris).Presented here is new evidence discovered during restoration work following the 1986 earthquake. The churchis two-storey. The lower floor is partially underground,and is of the cross-in-square type covered by a low domeborne by two columns and two piers. The low domeconsists of two intersecting ribs of stone incorporatedinto the vault structure as a whole. This constructionmethod is encountered quite frequently in Messenia during the mid-Byzantine period. All the vaults were constructed with ashlar blocks belonging to a single building phase, thus indicating that the upper floor was initially meant to be level and consequently that it is contemporary with the lower floor. The apse, however, wasbuilt during a later phase to replace an arched window.A window opening at this point can only mean that thelower floor was originally intended for a different usewhich remains unknown.The church's external masonry consists of ashlar blocksand thin bricks, while dressed stone blocks surround thewindows and the entrance, roughly dating the church tothe late twelfth century. The blocking of the openingswith rubble walls is of a later date, possibly contemporary to the construction of the apse.The upper church is a typical example of the cross-insquare type where the vault construction and westernwall have collapsed. During restoration work, the column bases and traces of the vault construction on thewalls were discovered, and thus the church's originalgeneral visage can be reconstructed, with the exceptionof the central dome. It seems that the structure consistsof three main building phases. The first consists of ashlar blocks and bricks arranged only horizontally. Theoldest phase includes the stone-dressed arched doorwayin the south wall. This building phase, which also includes the larger part of the east wall, is contemporarywith the lower floor church and from morphologicalelements mentioned above, it can be placed to the latetwelfth century.The upper part of the northern and southern walls belong to a later phase built with cloisonné masonry withabundant brickwork decoration, most of which hasbeen published by earlier scholars, apart from two ceramic plaques in the northern wall with relief depictionswhich came to light during the removal of later structural additions. Even sculptured marbles, spolia from anearlier building, adorn the church's walls. On the otherhand, the window types, the brick dressings and cloisonné masonry date this second phase to the beginningof the twelfth century. This paradox can only be explained by the later phase having been built, probablyafter an earthquake, at a date very close to the earlierphase, and by an architect with an archaic concept ofchurch building.Much later on, perhaps during the Ottoman period, theupper part of the sanctuary apse was rebuilt, togetherwith the bilobed window which replaced the mid-Byzantine one. Finally, the construction of the lower floorapse should be regarded as contemporary to the destruction of the upper storey's vaults. This probablyoccurred with the transformation of the structure to achurch, probably in the eighteenth century.