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On Foot - Byzantine Athens

11th and 12th centuries are considered the golden ages of Athenian Byzantine art. Almost all popular and remarkable Byzantine churches in the city were built during these two centuries and owe their existence to the Christian restoration that followed the crusade of Emperor Vassilios the 2nd in the Balkans. Some of the most known monasteries in the Athenian suburbs were also built in the same period.

 

Sightseeing:

Palaia Mitropoli (Old Metropolitan) (Mitropoli Square). This beautiful church is located near new Metropolitan. It was built in the end of 12th century in honor of Panagia Gorgoepikoo and Aghios Eleftherios. For its construction many ancient and Byzantine bas-reliefs were used. On its front there is an ancient frieze that comes from a monument dating back to the 4th century and revives the formal Attica celebrations. It became the orthodox Episcopal center of Athens, when all bishops were chased away from Parthenon, firstly by the Franks and later by the Turks, while from 1839 until 1842 it housed a library. The neighboring new Metropolitan was built between 1842 and 1862 as Athens Cathedral. It is a three aisled domed basilica that combines neo Byzantine and neo classic elements.

Kapnikarea (Ermou Str). A Byzantine domed church of cross-in-square type, dedicated to Presentation of the Virgin. The first building that was built dates back to the 11th century, but the church was finalized in the 13th century. It was named by many different names such as: Kamouchareas, Chrisokamouchariotissa, Panagia Bassilopoula, Panagia of Penza (Prince). In 1834, the year when Ermou Str. was constructed, the possibiloity of its transfer to another location or even its demolishing was studies, because it was in the middle of Ermou Str. It was saved however, thanks to Louis of Bavaria, father of king Othonas, and to Neofitos Metaksas, who was bishop of Talantio and metropolitan bishop of Athens.

Aghios Nikolaos Ragkavas (Plaka). It is located close to Anafiotika area in Plaka. This church was built in the 11th century and was part of Ragkava family Palace. Member of this family was Michael the 1st, emperor of Byzantium. The church took its name from the area, which at that time was called Ragkavas.

Aghia Ekaterini (Plaka). It is close to Lysicrates Monument , in the middle of the homonym square, under the shadow of a palm tree. Its construction dates back to the 11th – 12th century. Some Romaic monument ruins are still located on the corner of the square.

Aghios Ioannis Theologos (Plaka). It is a very beautiful cross-in-square church of the 11th-12th century, at the intersection of Erotocritos and Erechtheos Streets. So far it has been through many alterations and extensions.

Sotiras of Kotaki (Plaka). It is better known as Aghia Sotira. This church is in Kydathinaeon Str. right opposite of the Museum of Greek Folk Art. It was built in the 11th-12th century and has been through many later alterations and extensions.

Metochi Panagiou Tafou (Anafiotika). You can find it in Erechtheos Str. It is a small monastery that belongs to Jerusalem Holy Grave. The monastery's church is called Aghioi Anargiroi and dates back to the 17th century.

Panagia Chrisokastriotissa (Anafiotika). One of the many churches situated in Anafiotika. According to tradition, its miraculous icon protects the believers in their difficult times.

Sotira Lykodimus-Russian Church (Filellinon Str.) It is a large medieval building of Athens. It was built in 1031, as part of the Romaic catholic monastery that was preserved until 1701. In the 1850’s, the building was restored by Tsar Alexander the 2nd, who also donated the bell tower. Nowadays, it is Athens Russian Orthodox Church.

Aghioi Apostoloi of Solakis (Ancient Agora). This church is located inside the excavation area of Ancient Agora. It is one of the oldest churches of Athens (1000-1025 A.D.) and was built on the ruins of a Romaic nymphaeum of the 2nd century. During the 50’s and after its restoration, it took again its initiative form. Many Post Byzantine frescos that were found in other demolished churches were transferred to Aghioi Apostoloi.

Pantanassa> (Monastiraki Square). This three aisled basilica of the 10th century belonged to the monastery Koimisis tis Theotokou (Assumption of the Virgin Mary), from which the whole area took its name. Before that it was monastery dependency of Kaisariani monastery.

Aghios Dimitrios Loubardiaris (Filopappos Hill). It is a very beautiful church of the 16th century with remarkable frescos. According to tradition, it took its name (Loubardiaris or Bombardiaris) by an incident that happened in the 17th century when Aghios Dimitrios protected the believers from big cannon (Loubarda).

Aghioi Asomatoi (Theseion). A church of cross-in-square type, built in the 11th century. It is built with carved stone courses, framed with tiles, while in some of its parts you can also see the Islamic influence.

Aghios Ioannis stin Kolona (Column) (Euripides Str.) This small chapel of the 12th century took its strange name from the Romaic column that stands in the middle. Saint John Baptist is considered as the healer of all head diseases. Visitors can see all the offerings that believers give to the Saint, as a way to show their gratitude for helping them.
Aghioi Theodoroi (Kafthmonos Square). This church was reconstructed in the second half of the 11th century, on the foundations of an older church (9th century). It was built by N. Kalomao, who had the rank of Spantharokandidatos (a position of the Byzantine Aristocracy).

Taksiarches (church of Petrakis Monastery )– 14 Gennadiou Str.). This church belongs to Petrakis Monasteri (18th century), but it was probably built in the 12th century. Its interior is full of frescos dating back to 1719. 

Aghioi Isidoroi (Lycabetus Hill). It is a tiny church hidded in a cave in the middle of Lycabetus Hill. Its former name was Aghios Sidereas church. It was burnt in 1930 and reconstructed in 1931.

Aghios Georgios (Lycabetus Hill). This is a white church standing on top of Lycabetus Hill. You can go there on foot or by funicular railway. It is believed that during ancient times the temple of Akreos Zeus was standing there. During the Frank occupation the small chapel of Prophet Ilias took the place of the temple and was later replaced with Aghios Georgios Kavallaris. Nobody knows its accurate date of construction. The bell was donated by Queen Olga, who found the church in a deserted state and decided to reconstruct it.

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