tenedos church

Image from Johns Corfu World

At the top of Solomou Street under the New Fortress is the Roman Catholic Church of Tenedos dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of Carmel and it is named after an icon of the Virgin Mary which was brought to Corfu when the Venetians were forced to evacuate the island of Tenedos which was captured by the Turks in 1657.

Tenedos island lies off the Aegean entrance to the Dardanelles and was taken by the Turks in 1467 and later by the Venetians under Lazzaro Mocenigo in 1656, but Mocenigo was killed in action and the island had to be evacuated.

The Church and monastery started to be built in 1663 and completed in 1749.

After a few steps is the main doorway decorated in pink marble and a marble plaque has the inscription :

SOLI DEO LAUS HONOR ET GLORIA
(The God Alone, be the praise, honour and glory)

This is flanked by two coat of arms and a relief showing the lion of St. Mark bearing the inscription :

SUB UMBRA ALARUM TUARUM PROTÉGÉ NOS , MDCCXXII
(Under the shadow of thy wings, protect us, 1723)

The Church has one central nave and two side aisles. The interior is rather peculiar :
The nave is connected with three cross-vaults and is joined on either side aisle with only two archways.
The altar is made of white Carrara marble supported by four Corinthian columns built in 1603, earlier than the Church. It is possible that this altar belonged to the Church of the Madonna del Carmine which was in the Old Fortress.

The side altars are decorated with a variety of coloured marbles.

The Tenedos Church is closely associated with the history of Corfu. The French in 1798 established in the monastery (which existed near the present Church) the first public library in Corfu with books taken from various Catholic monasteries.
The building was destroyed during the second world war and also housed the first Greek school in the Ionian Islands which was inaugurated in 1805 by Ioannis Capodistrias who was then the secretary of State to the Septinsular Republic.

By Aleko Damaskinos

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