Eurasian decorative animal features of ‘the Little Metropolis Church of Athens’

  • Akin Tuncer (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


The Byzantine Empire and Turkish states co-existed in Anatolia and the Mediterranean basin for a long period of time, during which the civilizations directly or indirectly influenced each other in culture and the arts. ‘The Little Metropolis Church of Athens’, also known as ‘Hagios Eleutherios Church’, has a cross-in-square plan and its structure is dated to the end of the 12th century.The building is characterised by the heavy use of spoila in its construction. Many of the materials used belong to antiquity and the early Christian era. The building contains quite a rich variety of floral and figurative decorations thanks to the spolia materials used in the exterior. Reliefs depicting an antique festival, supernatural, fantastic, animal figures, one-on-one animal fight scenes and animal and human figures, decorate the entire outer surface of the structure. However, it is the symmetrical lion figures positioned on both sides of a cross, placed above the entrance door in the axis of the main apse, and a depiction of a lion-deer fight on the abscissa front, which are of significance for Turkish art.