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What is Icon Road?
Tracing Holy Icons -- from the Mediterranean to the North Sea

It is well known that European art is based on mediaeval Christian art. Before that, however, there was the influence of Byzantine art (Byzantine Empire: 330-1453 AD), and particularly icons, on the national arts of Europe (Italian, French, German, Russian & so on).
It is said that the oldest icons we can see today were painted in the 6th century at Mount Sinai in Egypt. However, icons were also spread over the ancient Egyptian Christian world through the agency of Coptic art.

Icons are the representative art form of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and were intended to transmit to believers an idea of the church's holy powers. It was an Orthodox mandate that icons had to be painted to resemble as closely as possible the original.
When icons were first created, they were intended as illustrations to Biblical stories for the benefit of believers, most of whom were illiterate. As time passed, icons grew more elaborate and stylized, while still retaining the same basic design. In the mediaeval era, Byzantine art found reflection in Romanesque murals, Gothic stained glass and so on.

These holy icons still speak to us today, and not only to Christians. That is because through icons, which manifest the very soul and profoundly held faith of the anonymous painters, we can understand the nature of Christian religious belief.
I also see links between modern art and icons, whose unique and abstract designs feature the beauty of glorious colours and a plenitude of expression. People the world over are attracted to icons for their beautiful and holy design, akin to that of Mandala and Tantric Buddhism.

This project was planned to introduce to the reader through photographs and text the wide sweep of Byzantine art from Mount Sinai in Egypt to Istanbul and Cappadocia in Turkey, Mount Athos in Greece, the Rila and Bachkovo monasteries in Bulgaria, the Ohrid monastery in Macedonia, the wall paintings at the Suceva monastery in Rumania and Kiev in the Ukraine through the Gold Ring surrounding northern Moscow in Russia.
Having had the good fortune to have visited all these places, I aim to convey the glories of their churches and monasteries through photographs and text, following the track of icons south to north from the Sinai desert on the Red Sea to St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Finland.

With the collapse of Eastern European Communist regimes around 1989, the world has changed almost beyond belief. It is now a relatively simple matter to visit many of these formerly Communist countries, and for those contemplating such a trip I would hope my book, with its documentary touches, will help to make a more fruitful journey.

It is my pleasure to present to the reader the world of icons -- a world I am confident you will enjoy far more than you can imagine.

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