27 May 2010

Nauplion: The Little Churches

This woodcut of Nauplion was published in 1686 with the Venetian reoccupation of Nauplion, and although it was based on an image made at least 150 years earlier it has added new detail. Where its original had a sparsely occupied city, this shows the lower city of Nauplion crowded with houses and churches, some with the familiar little Argolid domes. It nicely illustrates what Bernard Randolph, who published in 1689, said of Nauplion: "the houses stand thick and very full of People." It was the largest city in the Morea then.

In 1696 and 1700, the Venetians listed the churches they found, 26 on one list and 25 on the other. The author from whom I took the lists printed one list in Italian and one in Greek translation: I have used both sets of names and I have marked on the table below with an X the names I can identify on both lists. 

There are 20 names of churches inside the walls of Nauplion and 6 outside.  Most of these churches will have been small family donations, used only on their feastdays.  Several churches have multiple names: these are identifiably Latin churches with the names of the saints to whom the various altars are dedicated.  Another Venetian list says there are 5 Latin churches, but these lists have more than five.  The author from whom I am drawing is not reliable about giving dates, so it is quite likely that some of the churches evolved after the 5-church list.
Some of the churches are reported as owning vines or olive trees: most are listed with a number of houses and residents, which indicates a neighborhood or parish.  These numbers are given below. But more important, we can read a great deal of instability in the view of Nauplion that emerges from the lists.

The lists show a total of 795 houses, with 3,484 residents.  However, a large number counted as residents are oarsmen from the fleet -- kept there for construction work on the walls, armory, gate, and imperial staircase, and we do not know how many ships of the fleet were stationed there at the time.  Each had easily 200 oarsmen, so the influx or departure of so many males from, say 3 or 4 ships would have a large effect on such a small community.  The community of Ag. Sotiros is almost solidly a near-slum of oarsmen and immigrants.

Another example is the case of the Madonna of Vatopedi where the neighborhood is solidly Athenian.  After the Venetians under Morosini took Nauplion in 1686, they went on to Athens where they smashed the Parthenon.  Once it was decided that Athens would be too difficult to hold, as of 1688, they offered to transport to the Morea any Athenians who wanted to go.  Simultaneously, they evicted Moreote Turks from their homes, transported them to the beach at Faleron and abandoned them.  Abruptly Nauplion found itself burdened with Athenian refugees, increasing its population by nearly a third.
It looks as if the better-off moved into the 50-some houses in the emptied-out Turkish neighborhood, took over a church, and settled in.  Many more lived in shacks outside the walls, as you can see with the Anargiri and Ogni Santi, and in the cells at the Metamorphosis.  Two churches are associated with Russians. I have no idea what the Russians were doing in Nauplion at that date.  The conquering army had large contingents of Slavs, Croatians, and Scandinavians: possibly it had Russians, too.

The Beata Virgine Tragella with 2 noblemen's houses intrigues me.  Tragella is a family name so perhaps one of those houses was a Tragella house?  I suspect, because of the grander houses, it is located to the west end of the city, near the Amfitryon Hotel, where we do find most of the larger Venetian houses of the period.  On the other hand, B. V. Tragella has an altar dedicated to S. Antonio, and I find elsewhere that the Franciscans were given  the little mosque on the plateia the (used for a cinema) which they dedicated to S. Antonio.  S. Antonio does not otherwise turn up on the list and it is possible that the Franciscans moved in after the list was made.
I have put in bold lettering the names of the churches I can surely identify with present-day churches.  It will be noticed that there is no Ag. Sophia: the one surviving Byzantine church is now called Ag. Sophia but what its name is on these lists is anyone's guess.  I am unsure as to which church is the present Panagia, a 15th century church completely rebuilt in this period.  The present Ag. Nikolaos was apparently built after the lists and replaced either of two churches called S. Nicolò on the list.  Panagia and Ag. Nikolaos both have typically Italian flat coffered wood ceilings. When Bartolomeo Minio was building the city wall in 1480, he referred more than once to S. Nicolò on the edge of the marsh. The 1713 inscription from the "new" construction is reportedly kept in the museum. The present facade is much later and the bell tower is modern.  There was a second S. Nicolò nearby on the beach at Karathona, built out of profits from the wine trade and probably a 15thC church which may be included here.

An Ag. Spyridon is listed. The present church was built in 1702 by a confraternity,  ἀδελφότητος on the surviving inscription. Because the lists are from 1696 and 1700, there probably was a smaller, older one.  It is odd to think of Naupliots building a church to Ag. Spyridon anyway: he is a Corfiot saint, but a number of Corfiots could have been living there as merchants, or, more likely, recently arrived with the new Venetian occupations.  This is supported by another list that considers 267 of the 278 residents of the Ag. Spyridon district as foreigners. Ag. Spyridon is -- you will not be surprised to learn -- in the heart of a Turkish neighborhood of large houses.

The little Panagitsa, muse for so many bad Nauplion poems, was then known as the Madonna of the Golden Spring at the Lazareto, which means that the backpackers I remember from 30+ years ago were camping out where Nauplion's contagious used to live.

If you consider the number of churches in the old city of Nauplion now, the number of 25-26 is quite remarkable.  I can think of 9, though only 4 are used regularly   -- Panagia, Ag. Nikolaos, Ag. Spyridon, Ag. Giorgios, Ag Sophia (nearly always closed), chapels of the Archangel Michael & Ag. Paraskevi, Panagitsa, and a cave church by the elevator to Akro-Nauplion, always locked shut and whose name I think is Ag. Apostoli -- Ogni Santi on this list.  I have never found it unlocked there is nearly always a burning lamp inside. [Note: none of these churches looked in 1696 like they do in these pictures.]

The sakalarios signed a document with his title -- unfortunately, not with his name --  in 1679, before the Venetians arrived, being one of those responsible for the finances of the Agia Moni,  He is identified as being 'of Nauplion,' not resident in the monastery.

Churches inside the city vines/olives owned houses
S. Demetrio
[probably outside city]

13 x
S. Zorzi 
[probably outside city]

S. Nicolò a Xerombalo 0/24 47 x
Sta Maria

B. V. (Blessed Virgin, Beata Virgine) Mazzucato (Ματζουκάτου)  [a family of that name here in 1480] 8/0 27 x
S. Zuanne del Sachelario (treasurer) & SS. Adriano, Bernardo, Zorzi 4/32 37
S. Arcangeli / 
Ασώματι Αρφανού
0/9 17
S. Salvador

B.V. Tragella & SS. Teodori, Antonio, Michael

0/34 39 & 2 noblemen’s houses x
Sta. Anastasia 0/20 41 x
B.V. della Comunità & S. Michael

S. Nicolò & S. Trinità 0/20

Madona Ghrisopigi à Lazareto

S. Spiridon

S.i Teodori e la B. V. Pletori (marketplace)
Ogni Santi
 [the cave church by the elevator to Akro-Nauplion]
0/13 52 & 11 houses of Russians
Redentor e S. Michael 14/0

BV la Madonna di Vatopedi 20/41 53 [mostly Athenians] x
S. Salvador e BV, 
papà Conomo

Chiesa Catedrale, S. Nicolò, S. Pantaleon
[called S. Athanasio in 1500]
0/7 26 x
Αγ. Μαρίνα

Παναγία Ορφανή

Παναγία και Σωτήρας
Σωτήρα και Ασωματος
51 [mostly little houses and shacks of Westerns, Russians, and oarsmen from the fleet]
Παναγία Ορφανή

Παναγία της Κουμουνιτάς
Αγ. Νικόλαος Παπακόνδη
Athenians living in the monastic cells

Churches outside the city

S.i Anargiri, S. Zorzi
32 [refugees from Athens] x
Ogni Santi
[possibly this one out where the cemetery is]

46 [immigrants] x
S. Zorzi στὸ ζευγολατιό Οχμετάνι [a private church on a large landholding]
19 [Albanians] x
VB del Vurducha
Γενέσιο Θεοτόκου του παπά Βουρδούχα
1 12 x
Αγ. Γεώργιος 3 95 [foreigners]
S.a Veneranda
[Αγ. Παρασκευή στη σπηλιά?] [the road going out from the main gate was called the strada S.a Veneranda in 1500]
1 1 nun x

 Of course, further information on any or all of this is most welcome.  

The information here is taken from Ευτυχια Δ. Λιατα, Το Ναυπλιον και η Ενδοχωρα του απο τον 17ο στον 18ο αι (Αθηνα, 2002) which analyzes the Venetian statistics.  The Greek names of churches are by Liata: the Venetians gave Greek churches the equivalent Italian names and dis not identify to which confession they belong.

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