Orthodox churches at Plaka
Plaka provides an amazing walking experience around historical churches, most of them were built during 10-11th century, marking Athens medieval history.
So here is a map that you can use from your mobile, and more info follows.
Anafiotika’s Agios Georgios & Agios Symeon
Agios Georgios church is based at the beginning of the neighbourhood, Stratonos street.
Agios Symeon is located at the other side of the neighbourhood.It opens one or twice per year, on winter its on February 3rd.
These temples exist in Anafiotika– lets move a bit at the other side of Plaka, following Areopagitou, and then return.
The Chrysokastriotissa– really close to Agios Symeon
Under the Athens University history museum (Tholou 5) you can easily spot it.
Agia Aikaterini (near Kydathineon & Adrianou)
Near Hadrian’s Gate there is Saint Catherine’s temple, a previous Artemis (Minerva) temple. The church was initially built between 1025-1050, during Byzantium era. In the beginning it was dedicated in the memory of Saint Theodore, but in 1727 the Archbishop of Athens accepted mount Sinai request and passed the ownership to them, since 1889, when Sinai sold it back to Athens Archbishop. During that period the palms that still exist were put there.
The real reason that Sinai gave the temple back to Athenians, were the destructions the temple had because of the Greek War of Independence,as many other buildings in Athens up to 1832. There was also a thunderstruck on May 1849. Among the walls there are white marbles from the antiquities they existed on the area. The most impressive part is the marble piece that the altar is based upon. In Saint Ekaterini’s church General Makrygiannis was going in Sunday liturgy, and had also positioned three icons that were for the church planned to built in his yard. There are remarkable icons, of John the Baptist (Cretan school of 15th cent.), Saint Katherine of 17th cent, Panagia in the left marble decorative panel and Saint Spyridon of Ionian School of 18th century.
From Saint Ekaterini temple you can easily go to Areopagitou street. Heading up to Areopagitou we meet church of Saint George, inside the Makrygianni building, next to Acropolis Museum.
Next stop is Saint Sophia, in Areopagitou street again.
Russian church (former Soteira Lycodemou)
While you are walking Kydathineon upwards and get to Philellinon, you will see a different type of church. You have guessed right, it is the Russian church. The first Russian was Metamorfosi Kottaki, but the Russians asked for a new one. During Roman times, there were baths there. The church that was built around the 10th century was destroyed during Greek War of Independence, and it was rebuilt centuries later. Today it belongs to the Orthodox Russian Patriarchate.
Agia Sofia Acropolis- Areopagitou 45
The temple is for Saint Sophia, a martyr, during the time of Emperor Hadrian. It was built in 1919, over the ruins of an Athena temple. There it was also philosopher’s Proclus home.
Dimitrios Loumpardiaris – Filopappou
As you continue to walk uphill the Areopagitou and you decide to visit Pnyx hill, you meet Saint Dimitrios Loumpardaris (the Bomber). It is a church of 18th century, and it was painted in 1735. The altar lies on an ancient column. Besides the unique interior, you can notice the way of a famous architect, Pikionis was working. Also you can easily go to Philopapou hill from here. Outside the church you can notice the Dipylon gates.
The Bomber comes from a story that is written down by Dimitrios Kampouroglou. On October 25th 1658, the Ottoman Athens governor had planned to destory the temple, but minutes before the execution of his bombing, a thunderstorm occured and a thunder hit the blockhouse and everything was blown up and all killed. So the church was named since them Loumpardiaris= Bomber.
The most prestigious temple in Plaka is the Metohi of Panagiou Tafou.
Agioi Anargyroi or Metohi Panagiou Tafou – Erehtheos 18
Agioi Anargyroi temple, built on an Aphrodite’s temple, mostly known as Metohi of Panagiou Tafou, that is in Anafiotika area in Erextheos and Prytaniou streets, hosts the Holy Light from Jerusalem, from the Easter celebratrions. In the place of Metohi there were also graves from the Paleologos family members.
After Morozini’s venetians attacks the monastery was abandoned. In 1788 it was bought to its current owners.
Saint Nikolas Ragavas – Prytaneiou 1
Saint Nikolas Ragavas is located in Prytaneiou street, was the most aristocratic through byzantine times, built in the 11th century. Its owners were famous Ragavas Byzantine family, based in Athens and Constantinople. During Morozini’s attack a bomb his the church, making a large hole behind the altar.
It is said that the first free toll of Athens after liberation was of that church, in Easter, April 1833. It is also believed that later Empresses of Byzantium, Saint Irene and Theofano were living around the area.
Agios Ioannis Theologos – Erehtheos & Erotokritou
Probably built around 11th century, there are no documents for this temple. According to legends, the two canons that hit Parthenon in 1687, were located there.
Saint Dimitris of Diakos – Epimenidou 1
The church was built around 1600 and is near Lysikratous monument. An epigraph outside the temple it writes that 1821 martyr Athanasios Diakos had serviced there. In the garden of the church, an epigraph writes 1724, with an owl with a cross on its head. Also it mentions the contribution of Benizelos family for restoring the church.
Back to Kydathineon there is Metamorfosi Kottaki.
Metamorfosi Sotiros Kottaki- Kydathineon 10
Walking from Syntagma to Plaka via Kydathineon, you will see a big and new church. But it is not what is seems. This temple was built between (1000-1050), probably over an ancient temple. it had a different role because it was given to the Russians in Athens (in Kydathinaion it was the house of Paparigopoulos as well). For their restoration they were used stones from Haseki wall.
Today it has two more chapels, on the right of Agios Georgios and left of Agios Dimitrios. Here also the later Archibishop Damaskinos served.
Agia Irini – Navarhou Nikodimou 28
Not to be confused with Agia Irini square.
In Navarxou Nikodimoy 28, you can find a private chapel, of Saint Irini, but it was a Roman public bath there, and according to some, Saint Basil and Gregory the Nazianzin were having their baths were as well.
Agios Andreas- Agias Filotheis 19
Located in the modern Archbishopy of Athens, the former house of Agia Filothei.
Metamorfosi tou Sotiros (and not Kottaki at Kydathineon)
A temple close to Kanellopoulos museum, at the upper part of Anafiotika. A temple that historically is not known, probably it was destroyed for many centuries.
And the last, but definitely not least two amazing temples that are located in ancient agora.
Agioi Apostoloi Solaki- ancient Agora
In order to visit the temple, you have to pay for the entrance in the Agora. The temple is dated in the 10th century. Leitourgy takes place on June 29 annually. The Solaki is after a family name, so it was probably a private temple, used for baptism purposes. Together with Erehtheio, there are the two buildings that remained intact in Agora.
Saint George Alexandrinos
For us the top temple in Athens. You cannot actually have real access there, you can watch it from a distance. It is located over Plaka, inside ancient agora, and is related to Greek Independence War, since it was destroyed by explosion in order to kill Turks.
Check also the Byzantine museum for more orthodox christian history and don’t forget that during Bright week and easter is the best time to visit Plaka!