Rania Michail

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       PhD Candidate

       Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana in Rome

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The Early Christian baptismal complexes of Cyprus and the relationship between liturgy and architecture as reflected in the Cypriot examples.

The island of Cyprus, located along pilgrimage itineraries to the Holy Land and important maritime trade routes of the Mediterranean, absorbed architectural features from various regions of the orbis christianus antiquus. Although influenced by other traditions, the architecture of the island presents some original features, which are not found elsewhere. One of these original features is the architectural form and articulation of the baptisteries which are dated to the 5th century.

The Cypriot baptismal complexes follow a processional type that can be named a “Cypriot type”. They consist of a free-standing rectangular building, composed of different chambers that follow the processional type of the baptismal liturgy. The development of the Cypriot baptisteries’ architectural plan and spatial perception was directly related to the island’s baptismal liturgical tradition, initially influenced by the Syrian-Antiochene tradition and then by the Jerusalemite one. In almost all these buildings a rich floor and parietal decoration is attested.

The baptisteries, which follow this “Cypriot type”, they all belong to the 5th century: the baptistery of Ayios Epiphanios in Salamis-Constantia, the baptistery at the Episcopal precinct at Kourion, the baptisteries of Ayios Philon and Ayia Triada at the Carpasia peninsula and the baptistery at Cape Petounta in Mazotos.

The baptistery at the basilica A at Ayios Georghios of Peyia, which is dated to the 6 th century, slightly escapes from the “Cypriot type” and forms an uniqum in the excavated archaeological record of Cyprus. The example of the Peyia baptistery can be used as a case-study for perceiving the amalgamation and continuation of local traditions into the Byzantine architecture.


This page is part of the project LABedia: Еncyclopedia of Late Antique Balkans, 4th-5th c.,
financed by the National Science Fund, contract КП-06-Н30/6, 13.12.2018