Church of Timios Prodromos (Metropolitan)
© Region of Eastern Macedonia & Thrace
Location: The church is located in Metropoleos Sq., in the Old Town of Xanthi, in the traditional city center since the Byzantine period and the Ottoman occupation.
The Monument: The church was probably erected over the ruins of an earlier one that had been destroyed by fire, shortly before 1809. This fact is recorded in a letter that Metropolitan Ignatios of Herakleia sent to Metropolitan Serafim of Xanthi, with which the Metropolitan of Xanthi asked the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to intervene before the Ottoman authorities in order to be granted permision to restore the metropolitan church. In another letter of May 18th, 1809 the same Metropolitan informs the Monastery of Vatopedi that he had founded a fund-raising comittee and asks for financial support for the building of the church. It is not sure whether the efforts of the Metropolitan Serafim were succesful or not. However, the current metropolitan church was erected after the earthquakes of 1839 with the assistance of the Metropolitan Eugenios of Xanthi, as testified by a walled inscribed marble slab on the west wall of the monument and by a second slab lying on the exterior side of the Sanctuary niche.
It is a three-aisled basilica with a more recent narthex. The newer bell tower (1924) is located to the southwest of the monument and presents neoclassical and late-byzantine features.
A few pieces of wall paintings have been revealed in the church, dating from the late 19th or the early 20th centuries.
The icons of the iconostasis are of a great artistic and historical interest. It is known that these icons were commissioned by the Metropolitan Serafim of Xanthi from the monastery of Vatopedi, with his letter of May 18, 1809. With his letter, the Metropolitan was asking the fathers of the monastery to indicate a skillful painter for creating the templon’s icons of the Metropolitan church. The icon of the Birth of Prodromos is signed by Ioasaf, a painter of Mount Athos; inscriptions in other icons mention the names of famous Xanthians of that period. The paintings on the icon-stand depicting Aghios Charalambos (1910), Apostles Peter and Paul (1902) are signed by M. Evangelidis, a Thasian icon painter who, at that time, was living and working inXanthi.
A walled marble tomb inscription as well as the grave of the Metropolitan Eugenios is situated in the south wall of the church. The inscription is decorated with relief patterns, such as an archbishop’s crosier, a bishop’s mitre, dikirotrikira, a small omophorion and the Holy Grail that can be distinguished in the middle, all symbols of the bishopric office.
Βιβλιογραφία: Γ. ΛΑΜΠΑΚΗΣ, Περιηγήσεις, Ξάνθη-Άβδηρα-Μπουλούστρα-Γενιτζέ, Δελτίον της Χριστιανικής Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας 6 (1906)• Α. ΓΕΡΟΜΙΧΑΛΟΣ, Ιωακείμ Σγουρός, Μητροπολίτης Ξάνθης και αι αποφάσεις της Δημογεροντίας, Θεσσαλονίκη 1968· Π. Α. ΓΕΩΡΓΑΝΤΖΗΣ, Συμβολή εις την ιστορίαν της Ξάνθης, Ξάνθη 1976• ΧΡ. Χ. ΜΕΛΚΙΔΗ, Παρατηρήσεις πάνω στην πολεοδομικό χάρτη του παραδοσιακού οικισμού της Ξάνθης, Θρακικά Χρονικά 43 (1989)• Ι. Α. ΠΑΠΑΓΓΕΛΟΣ, Περί του Μητροπολιτικού ναού του Προδρόμου στην Ξάνθη, Μεταβυζαντινή Θράκη (ΙΕ΄-ΙΘ΄αι.), 3ο Διεθνές Συμπόσιο Θρακικών Σπουδών, Κομοτηνή 25-30 Μαΐου 1998, Περιλήψεις• Γ. ΧΡ. ΤΣΙΓΑΡΑΣ, Εκκλησίες της Ιεράς Μητροπόλεως Ξάνθης και Περιθεωρίου, Ξάνθη 2004• Γ. ΧΡ. ΤΣΙΓΑΡΑΣ, Ιερός Μητροπολιτικός Ναός Τιμίου Προδρόμου, στο: Θρησκευτικά Μνημεία στο Νομό Ξάνθης, επιμέλεια: Γεώργιος Χρ. Τσιγάρας, Ξάνθη 2005.