|Hellenes Abroad - Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Alatsata|
Ηellenes abroad / Greece - Συμβούλιο Απόδημου Ελληνισμού
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on historic visit to Smyrna - Service at the temple of Theotokos in Alatsata
The Ecumenical Patriarch, His All Holiness Bartholomew, will be paying a visit to the region of Smyrna, starting on Friday (May 27th) until Sunday (May 29th). A highlight of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s visit will be the Saturday’s vespers service, officiated by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, for the first time in 90 years after the destruction of Asia Minor at the Entrance of Theotokos Temple in Alatsata.
On the same day, the Patriarch will also be officiating Patriarchal Divine Liturgy at the archaeological site of Ephesos, at the temple of St. John Theologos, where according to tradition, the faithful disciple of Christ annunciated in heavens. The following day, Sunday May 29th at 9:30 in the morning, Patriarchal Divine Liturgy will be held at the Temple of St. Foteini in Smyrna.
The Patriarch will be accompanied by a delegation of the North Aegean Region, led by the periphery’s regional governor Nasos Yagalis. During their stay in the region, the members of the delegation will be meeting representatives of the political, financial and social life of Smyrna.
The church of the Entrance of Theotokos was built in 1833 in Alatsata by the famous architect Emmanuel Kalonaris from Smyrna. In 1838, the precinct of the temple was covered all with small white and black pebbles forming various designs. Part of the perimeter is preserved till today, showing the stud eagle and the construction date.
The great marble temple of a mixed art order and with many new classic and Baroque elements, which adorns the church built, was build in 1874 by Ioannis Chalepas from the island of Tinos (an/or Chalapas, who was the father of Yiannoulis Chalepas. The cost of the temple amounted 710 £ which was an enormous amount for that time. The iconography was painted by the great painter Sakellarios A. Magkli from the island of Kalymnos.
After the completion of the church building which is dedicated to Mary, then the church of St. George (opening 1848) was built in Agrilia, which was already the seaport of Alatsata. There were loaded products for export, especially the raisins. The initiative, the care and the expenditure for the construction is due to Georgios Ioannou Vlamos the also said Diakogeorgi. The main parts of the stonework were transported via the sea from the Erythrea area. Among the others were transported and the two engraved stones called “resolutions”. One was put into the wall in the front of the church and the other in the center of the floor.
The church of St. George became the attraction of the relocation of the Alatsateans to Agrilia area and then was created the homonym settlement.
In 1861 the cornerstone was founded for the construction of the temple of the Holy Trinity on Upper Village (Pano Chorio), but the works stop for tax reasons. In 1870 the works start again and were finished in 1872. The architect of the temple, in the original architectural church project was again Emmanuel Kalonaris. When Emmanuel Kalonaris died, then Markos Lampaditis, from the island of Tinos took over. The marble works were made by the workshop of Ioannis Chalepa and were headed by his second son Nicholas.
Yiannoulis at that time was in Alatsata but did not attend works because of his poor mental health which led him to a suicide attempt. The interior religious artwork of the church was carried out by painter Ioannis Sitaras from the island of Paros and Sakellarios A. Magklis from the island of Kalymnos. The precinct of the temple was elaborately paved with black and white pebbles. In 1911 German engineer Richard Hirsh, who was working in Alatsata for the construction of a wireless station constructed a solar clock in the precinct. Many years after the persecution of the Greeks, was decided to be demolished. Currently in its place are the ruins of the stone base.
Ioannis Chalepas, died in 1901 and was buried in Alatsata.
Voluntarily took part in construction works almost all Katochoreans (Upper Village inhabitants). Also many of them were donors of various structures. The temple of the church was temporarily made from wood. The church of Saint Constantinos, across the small bridge in the Kato Chorio (Lower Village) was razed to its foundations and there is nothing in that place now.
After the construction of the church of the Entrance of Theotokos into the Temple, the mosque of the town was built in the area slaughterhouses place, for the religious needs of Turkish residents, who were then numbered about 600 to 800 persons.
During the passing of the years, the Turkish residents spread outside the town, creating small settlements in the plain. Thus the operation of the mosque ceased.
Today Alatatsa is one of the greatest tourist cities in Minor Asia, Ionia and for tourism purposes, the government declared the Entrance of Theotokos church a historical monument, carrying out restoration and maintenance activities on the building. The Turkish Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the municipality of Alatatsa, employing numerous expert, archaeologists, conservators, etc. from the Universities of Smyrna and competent authorities of the ministry successfully carried out the required work. During the restoration activities, all stores and their false structures were removed. The western wing of the temple was finally uncovered in its original state and almost all icons were revealed at the upper part of the temple.
According to Thodoris Kontaras, out of the 69 parish churches and 254 chapels, existing in Ionian Erythraia in 1922, today only 5 are salvaged.
Source: Articles by the Asssociation of the Alatsateans “The Entrance of Theotokos into the Temple”.