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Churches in Athens

Churches in Athens starts

One of the particularities of Athens is that in every corner of every street you're going to find a church. Athens churches are everywhere: in little parks, in small streets, in big roads, between huge buildings or on top of little hills for churches are in Greek's everyday life.

The Church of Panaghia Kapnikarea

The church of Panaghia was built at the beginning of the 11th century on the ruins of an ancient temple, possibly dedicated to the goddess Athena or Demeter, and was probably named after its donor. It is a cross-in-square church and has a dome witch it's supported by four Roman columns.

You can also admire three apses on the east side and a narthex on the west. In the north side of the church, a chapel dedicated to Aghia Varvara was added as well as the exonarthex, witch was built slightly later in front of the two churches. The church's walls were built in the typical cloisonne masonry and are decorated with limited brick, Cufic ornaments.

Most of the icons inside the church are the work of the celebrated Modern Greek artist Fotis Kontoglou. This church is located in the famous street of Ermou, well-known for the great amount of shops boarding it.

The Church of Agii Theodori

This tiny church, situated west of Plateia Klafthmonos, was probably erected over the ruins of an earlier structure and is possibly the oldest Byzantine church in Athens. Simply, in a transitional cross-in-square shape, the church has inscribed plaques built into the west wall, over the entrance in the western wall, recording that it was renovated in 1065 A.D. by Nicolaos Calomalos.

During the opening phase of the Greek Revolution in 1821 the church was badly damaged but was restored in 1840. The ambo and. the sanctuary of the church has also been restored. It is a lovely building with walls built in the typical cloisonne masonry and decorated with brick, Cufic ornaments and terracotta frieze of animals and plants. The paintings in the interior wall are dated to the 19th century.

The Church of Panagia Gorgoepikoos or Agios Eleftherios

This 12th-century little church is considered as one of the finest of the city's Byzantine relics. It stands on Plateia Mitropoleos, in the region of Plaka (part of the historic center), in the shadow of the large and modern Metropolis Cathedral. With much more historical value than its new neighbor, this humble church was built on the ruins of an ancient temple witch was dedicated to the goddess Eileithyia.

It is partly built with Greek Pentelic, Roman and early Byzantine marble blocks and decorated with marble murals, such as one dating from the 4th century BC on witch you can admire the symbols of the twelve months, as well as an external frieze of symbolic beasts. It is a cross-in-square church in a four-column type and only the dome is the part built in the typical cloisonne masonry. This church was initially know as "Little Metropolis" and was dedicated to the Madonna, the Panaghia Gorgoepikoos; much later, in 1863, it was dedicated to Aghios Eleutherios, which explains its double name.

The Church of the Holy Apostles

This church is a little jewel standing near the southern entrance of the Ancient Agora. It was built in the early 11th century in honor of St. Paul who thought in the Agora. This charming little church was restored to its original form in 1954-57 and stripped of its 19th century additions. Inside, you can admire its fine Byzantine frescoes.

Church of Panageia Hrysospiliotissa

In a small grotto in the cliff face situated behind the Theatre of Dionysos you're going to discover the tiny church of Panagia Hrysospiliotisa (Chapel of the Madonna of the Cavern).

You're going to be touched by this little place with walls full of old pictures and icons. In this grotto, in 320 BC, Thrasyllos built a temple dedicated to Dionysos.

This explains the two Ionic columns remaining above the chapel. You can reach this beauty by a rock path leading up from the Theatre of Dionysos.

Moni Dafniou

30 minutes from the town center by bus (from palteia Koumoundourou) you can visit the 11th century most important Byzantine monument of Attica (it's even on UNESCO's World Heritage list). The temple was named after the daphnia laurels witch was sacred to Apollo.

It was destroyed by the Goths in 395 AD but you can still see, in the narthex of the church, the only surviving Ionic column. You can also admire some extremely fine mosaics (of Greece's finest ones) representing saints, monks, apostles, prophets and guardian archangels.

But the amazing thing to see is the representation of the Christos Pantokrator (Christ in Majesty) in the center of the dome. In 1205, the monastery was sacked by the renegades of the Fourth Crusade; rebuilt and then occupied by monks until the War of Greek Independence; it was used as an army barrack and finally as a hospital for the mentally ill.

Moni Kaissarianis

This really interesting site is situated 5km east of Athens, near the top of Mt. Hymettus, which you can reach if you catch a bus from plateia Kanigos, at the north end of Akadimias avenue. You go until the terminus, the cemetery of Kaissariani, and then you have to walk for about 30 minutes to reach the monastery.

Surrounded by pine trees, cypress trees and wild flowers this place is a real pleasure for the senses. This 11th century church is dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin and built to the Greek-cross plan. It was originally a temple to Demeter who was goddess of agriculture and nature.

The actual monastery was built with the stones of the second temple erected there during the Roman period (100-300 AD); this is the reason of the existence of the four columns supporting its dome. In the narthex of the church you can admire the 17th century frescoes, work of Ioannis Ipatos.

On the hill above the church you're going to discover a spring, source of the river Ilissos whose waters were once sacred to Aphrodite and therefore believed to cure infertility.


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