The churches from the city of Athens are beautiful historic places, some of them built over ancient Greek temples. Some of them are large and imposing, but most of them are small constructions, crammed between other buildings or… tucked under them! There are many churches to visit in Athens where you can admire Byzantine works of art, but here are my top choices. Make sure you don’t skip seeing them!
Agios Nikolaos Ragavas
Agios Nikolaos Ragavas is located in Plaka, not far from the Anafiotika area. The church was built in the 11th century and it originally belonged to a Byzantine family called Ragavis, hence the name.
Time and the 1821 Revolution changed the appearance of church Agios Nikolaos Ragavas, though part of the original construction was restored in the 1970s.
Among the churches to visit in Athens, this one is a must for its historic importance in particular. It is supposed to be the first church to ring its bell in celebration of the liberation of Athens from under the Germans, in 1944.
In the same neighborhood with Agios Nikolaos Ragavas, you’ll find the Church of Agia Ekaterini or the Church of St. Chatherine. This Greek Orthodox place of worship replaced an old Greek temple dedicated to the mother goddess Artemis.
Event when the gates to Agia Ekaterini are locked, it’s still lovely to admire the construction and the beautiful garden surrounding it from a distance.
The setting is what makes Agia Ekaterini one of the top choices of churches to visit in Athens!
Agios Ioannis Theologos
Also in Plaka, you will find the small church of Agios Ioannis Theologos. I actually belongs to the larger church Agios Nikolaos Ragavas, which is within walking distance.
Agios Ioannis Theologos was raised at the end of the 11th century with a square cross shape of the foundation, and an eight-sided Athenian dome. This is the common look of the Greek churches raised in that time.
What makes Agios Ioannis Theologos one of the most interesting churches to visit in Athens are the well-preserved paintings on its interior walls. They date back from the 13th century and are the work of a local artist.
This is my favorite among the churches to visit in Athens! Raised in the Byzantine era, the Agia Dynami Church (also known as Holy Power) is a place where pregnant women pray for a safe delivery.
When Athens was going through its fast urbanization processes in the 1950s, the municipal government wanted to raise in this very spot the
Ministry of Education and Religion. (Currently the building of the Electra Metropolis Hotel.) They found it easy to relocate the people who lived in the area near Syntagma Square. However, the Greek Orthodox Church refused to relocate this little gem of a church, and the city just had to grow around it.
Much like the Christian Orthodox religion, this is a symbol of the resilience of tradition in front of the modern world.
Agios Georgios on Lycabettus Hill
A visit to Agios Georgios comes with a great view over Athens. You can go up on Lycabettus Hill by taking a funicular or by hiking. Either way you choose to climb to the highest point of Athens, you’re in for a treat!
Dating back to 1870, the Agios Georgios was raised in the place of an ancient Greek temple dedicated to Zeus.
Differences between various places of worship
Being from Romania, where most of the population is Christian Orthodox, I was very used to the look and scent of the Greek Orthodox Churches, as it felt familiar. Mathieu, however, who comes from a Catholic family, was surprised every time by how small the Greek churches were, how crammed with furniture and icons, and how strong was the incense smell.
To make it less of a shock, I recommend you watch just a few minutes from Mr. Ibrahim and the flowers of the Quran, where Momo learns how to recognize a Catholic church, an Orthodox church, and a mosque just by their scents:
Churches to visit in Athens – Quick travel guide
Agios Nikolaos Ragavas
Open daily between 08.00-12.00 and 17.00-20.00.
Address: Prytaneiou 1, Athina 105 58, Greece | See on map
Open daily between 08.00 and 12.00.
Address: Chairefontos 10, Athina 105 58, Greece | See on map
Churches to visit in Athens and much more!
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