The 10th Directorate of Byzantine Antiquities has set up the Christian Halkidiki exhibition in Ouranoupoli, Halkidiki, which is the village where visitors and pilgrims embark for Mount Athos. It is housed in a building near the embarkation point and the Ouranoupoli tower. Constructed in the eighteenth century, this building is known as the arsanas or boathouse, and was formerly used as such by the monks of Vatopedi Monastery, which owned it.
The exhibits date to the Early Christian, Byzantine, and post-Byzantine periods and come from all over Halkidiki. The purpose of the exhibition is to show visitors that Halkidiki also has plenty of important treasures of the Christian era in addition to the numerous treasures owned by the monasteries of Mount Athos.
On the first floor there are 14 portable icons (11 large and 3 smaller ones) of the eighteenth to early twentieth century, from monasteries, churches, and chapels in Halkidiki. Of particular note is the icon of the Panayia and Christ-child enthroned, which dates to 1728. Also noteworthy are the folk-style wall paintings detached from the sanctuary and prothesis apses of the Chapel of the Holy Trinity, a dependency of the Monastery of St Anastassia (16th-17th cent.). Visitors may also see a bronze cross of the 11th-12th century, a small bone plaque of Christ of the 10th-11th century, and a calendar of services for the immovable feasts in September produced in 1806 and found in the area of the Kassandra open prison.
On the second floor are Christian finds from excavations in Halkidiki: glazed pottery, unpainted pottery, oil lamps, bronze coins, jewellery, seals, and arrowheads from Potidaia, Toroni, Palaiokastro, Ayos Mamas, Nea Syllata (the mediaeval city of Brya), Galatista (the tomb of St Paraskevi), and the cemetery of Ierissos. Other exhibits include Corinthian and Ionic capitals and a perforated closure slab from the Early Christian basilicas of Sophronios and St George at Nikiti.
Special thanks to Prof Vlasis Vlasidis and Macedonian Heritage for text and photos