Basilica Monument of St. Isidore (Chios)

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The Basilica monument of St. Isidore in Chios is a set of remains of an early Christian basilica that are partly covered by a small church with a low roof made with cement. The monument is located in Letsena of Chios town on the island of Chios among the Greek Islands in the Aegean Sea. Inside the church there is a subterranean vaulted crypt where the relics of Ss. Isidore and Myrope were once kept.


The early basilica of St. Isidore was built on the remains of an earlier, Roman structure. According to tradition, the church was built in the second half of the seventh century, during the reign of emperor Constantine IV of Constantinople. Evidence from examination of the building is that it was repaired several times In the course of its long history. The repairs probably came during the Frankish occupation, in the late Byzantine period, and in modern times.

Five architectural phases have been identified, with the earliest dating from the fifth century and the final being its destruction by the earthquake in 1881. During the first phase the basilica was built on the ruins, and incorporating architectural elements, of an older Roman building. The probably happened in the fifth century. During the second phase the structure was modified as a three aisle basilica. Then, in the third phase a new, larger three aisle basilica was built. This structure probably was built during the time of Constantine IV, although this is not supported by archaeological evidence. In the fourth phase, that may have been related to the earthquake of 1389 referred to in the Allatius Codex[1], the church was altered, becoming a cross-shaped structure with a dome and circular apse. The fifth phase saw the addition of a minaret to the center of the northern wall. In the basilica are preserved mosaic floors decorated with geometric patterns, and many relief architectural parts.

The archaeological effort concerning the basilica of St. Isidore began with the first excavation on the site by G. Soteriou in 1918. This research was continued by A. Orlandos in 1928. Further excavations were conducted in the summers of 1981 and 1982, by the 3rd Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism[2].

See also