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The Museum is organized in the area of the Cathedral Church of Saint Mary and was built in 1797 with the shapes of a previous one with an identical denomination. The museum complex consists of the Church room, the bema and the sets of liturgical support; a floor on the north part and two floors on the west side. The typical feature of the architecture and of the interiors perfectly suits the icons display and its aim is to keep the significance values and their original nature. The main Church room (naos) consists of three lengthened aisles that end with apses, and are separated by columns with relief decorative capitals and square pillars. Columns and pillars are connected with arches, with a higher springer in the nave. The covering and the columns with different heights alternate with narrower spaces compared to the length of the nave to create the room to the two outside domes covered with a double pitched roof. 

salla1Ground Floor Second Room In the big room most of the icons collection is exhibited. On the left side there is the icon of the Presentation to the temple, which was part of the iconostasis of Evangjelia’s Church in the castle of Berat. Other three icons of this series come from this Church, they are attributed to the work of Onufri and are nowadays exhibited in the Museum of Medieval Art of Korca. The icon of the Presentation to the temple shows the scene of a lengthened composition. The lined up images, marked by a rhythm and an elegant drawing, go with the temple rich architecture full of incandescent colours. The shaping of the images and of the emphasis on color give the icon a particular beauty, typical of the icon series by Onufri. The iconographic style of this icon is well linked to the images and the scenes of the iconostasis of the Evangjelia’s Church, which occupies the west side of the room. Among the apostles’ busts the central prayer scene is particularly interesting. In it the richness of shapes, the elegant and delicate character stands out well, these are all characteristics of the painting of the master Onufri. In the Pantocrator, bigger than the Virgin’s icon at the entrance of the Museum, we can see, with the latter one, analogies in the iconographic style. The full shapes, the opposite colours with rich reflexes, are modelled with a particular technical perfection, in the clothes too. Christ’s image is severe, characterized by a strong neck and a sharp look. It’s obvious that it’s a second repainting carried out, perhaps, from the author itself who, in a second period painted the Pantocrator exhibited in this room too. In this second icon, that is dated back to the 17th century, the shadows are very thick and not transparent, with dark colours without tone passages, in line with the characteristics of a simple painting, deeply mystical, all elements that are very far from the life and the effects of the delicate tones of the most representative painting of the Paleological age. In this room the icon of the Virgin Glykophiloussa (Virgin of tenderness), dated back to the 17th century, shows a certain importance. It keeps the links with the iconographic type of the icons from Crete. The icon is typical for its clean shapes, the transparent colours with tones and delicate passages. The rich decoration with the engraved haloes connect this icon to the other icons of the Museum making part of a series of family icons one of which is situated on the main side of the church. Between the two brackets of the second pillar another icon, the one of the Virgin Glykophiloussa is exhibited. This icon was made by the painter Joan Çetiri, author of most of the icons in the Church iconostasis. It is an example of the iconographic development of the theme. The position of Baby Jesus in Mary’s arms, the shapes, the clothes treatment and the details show a different feeling towards the tradition. The golden frame, carved with floral patterns, was made by the maestro Stefan. 4.

The rooms of the upper floor connected with a wooden laddersalla2 to the lower floor, among the icons of this room we must mention the Nicholas’ ones, Onufri’s son, linked for size and iconographic style to the author. They are distinguished by strong colours, with calm tones from the lines highlighted in the faces and the hands. The icon that portrays a half-length Saint Nicholas and the other one with Saint Nicholas and stories of his life was painted by Onufër Qipriot, author of many other icons and frescoes in the church of Saint Nicholas, a Church close to Vllahernes' church, in the castle area. In the second room there is a fragment of the painted iconostasis, dedicated to Saint Nicholas, with two scenes divided by a wooden shelf, that separate the Virgin’s two death scenes, on the right, and Saint Nicholas one on the left. The portrait in miniature and the architecture in the background of the scenes are typical for the elegant drawing and the chromatic contrasts, where red is more evident, a characteristic of the maestro Onufri. A small sized icon, always by Onufri, as the one of the same subject exhibited on the floor below, is the icon of Saint John the Precursor that can be related to the maestro's style, despite from the repainting, it shows the unchanged iconographic values of the 16th century in Albania. Among the icons in the second room an important room to mention is the one that shows the Seven Slavic Saints (Eptaritmi) in which, a particular attention is addressed to the landscape of the town of Berat, of its castle, of the river Osum, of the bridge and of the churches.

kisha Furthermore of particular interest are the icons situated in the golden wood iconostasis of the Church, most of it a work by Joan Çetiri. Some textile works and metallic objects exhibited in the showcase witness the high level of handcrafted tradition that goes on from centuries in the town of Berat.

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Comunità Europea Interreg Italia-Albania Regione Puglia Ministria e turizmit, kultures, rinise dhe sporteve Direzione Regionale per i Beni Culturali e Paesaggistici della Puglia Tecnopolis Novus Ortus

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