Just 11 kilometers from Athens towards the historic city of Eleusis is the Monastery of Daphnis, one of the great jewels of Byzantine art both for its excellent state of preservation today, and for the historical and artistic value of the mosaics in its interior, true identifying features of Byzantine art that came from Byzantium, that is, the current city of Istanbul, to distant places in Europe such asVenice or Ravenna, where jewels of the value of San Vitale or San Apollinaris are kept.
If such temples were produced so far from Byzantium, it stands to reason that they were also made in the neighboring lands of Greece, where there are abundant examples. Some have also kept part of their Byzantine mosaics, as is the case in Hosios Loukas or the Monastery of San Lucas Fócida, while in others, such as Moni Kaisarianithere are no mosaic remains.
Returning to the Dafnis Monastery, the truth is that researchers have not resolved all the unknowns regarding its construction. And not even a specific date regarding its foundation can be provided. Although, it is thought that it could have originated in the 5th century, but everything is very confusing from an archaeological point of view, since in that same location it couldThere may be a classical temple dedicated to Apollo, and even as a witness to that you can still see an Ionic order column. Also daphni means laurel, and it was one of the attributes of Apollo.
To this remote occupation we must add many other creeds throughout Hellenic history, since the Dafnis Monastery, in addition to being a place of Byzantine beliefs, was also a Cistercian convent and later followed Orthodox rites. In other words, it presents practically the entire religious history of the country. Something that today is discovered in the form of a museum, because the monastery suffered a lot of damage during the Greek War of Independence, so it was secularized, restored and later turned into a museum.
As for the mosaics that are still preserved, these are works that are supposed to have been made by artists who came here from Byzantium itself, which is why they are of great category. And they abide by the strict rules of representation, in terms of colors, scales and compositions, since this type of work should be immediately identifiable by the faithful.
Mosaics of Daphnis Monastery
In other words, they had a lot of symbols, but when they were executed by top artists, sublime images were created, like the ones we see in Daphnis, where the set of mosaics dedicated to the Nativity and other scenes from the New Testament show us endless details, sometimes of an extraordinary delicacy in the objects and above allon the faces of the characters.