Saint Constantine at Avdou
Τhe barrel-vaulted, single-nave church of St. Constantine is located a kilometre to the west of the settlement of Avdou. It is a simple building with a high, pointed doorframe as entrance on its west side. The church has wall painting decoration in the interior which was completed in 1445 by the brothers, Manuel and John Phokas, the first of whom painted the walls of the church of St. George in Apano Symi (1453) and of St. George in Embaros (1436/7). The reference to the then Byzantine Emperor, John VIII Palaiologos (1425 – 1448) in the dedicatory inscription as a chronological marker, as is found in a few others churches of the island, has been interpreted as a declaration of the belief of the enslaved Cretans who defined their consciousness through the Empire of Constantinople. The iconographic programme of the church includes scenes from the Christological cycle as well as scenes from the cycle of St. Constantine, rare in Cretan churches. The equally rare depiction of St. Fanourios as a deacon, on the front of the conch of the sanctuary, must be mentioned among the other representations. The same representation, which is found also in the catholicon of the church of St. Nicholas at Zaros, testifies to the spread of the cult of the saint in Crete during the 15th century. The high quality painting in the churches which were painted by the Phokades is characterised by the academic trend, which is considered the last stage of evolution before the final development of the Cretan School, a fact which places the two painters within its immediate precursors.