Church of Hagia Dynamis
Where is the Church of Hagia Dynamis
Just two minutes walk from the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, the tiny Church of Hagia Dynamis (Church of Sacred Power) is almost surrounded by the sizeable up-market hotel Electra Metropolis Athens.
This 16th century Byzantine Greek Orthodox church pays homage to the Virgin Mary. It serves as a shrine for pregnant women to go and pray for safe delivery.
In the 1830s, after the Greek War of Independence, the surrounding buildings around the church were demolished to widen the street to serve the city’s growing needs.
During the 1950s, the area was again redeveloped. The Greek government attempted to obtain the land the church was on to build the new headquarters for the Ministry of Education and Religion. However, the Greek Orthodox Church refused to give up the land and the church, so it was decided to build around it. In the end, this small single-aisle church found itself almost entirely nestled between large and tall buildings.
Inscriptions on the grounds suggest the church was built on an ancient temple dedicated to Heracles, the Greek demigod famous for his strength and performing “the 12 labours”.
Excavations came across a 50-foot tunnel beginning under the church connecting it to an extensive cave system that reaches the Acropolis and the Kaisariani Monastery on the north side of Mount Hymettus. But, in 1963, a steeple was built over the entrance to the tunnel, prohibiting future access.
During the War of Independence, Greek munitions experts were forced to make bullets for the Turks in the church. But, they also secretly made lots of them for the Greek revolutionaries. Each night they were smuggled with the rubbish.
Take time to admire the murals on the walls. They depict, among others, Agia Ekaterini, Agia Kyriaki, Agia Filothei, Agios Ierotheos, Agios Demitrios, as well as the Beheading of St. John the Baptist.
Dress Code for Churches in Athens and Greece
Dress codes vary from church to church in Greek Orthodoxy. If you wish to enter the Chuch of Hagia Dynamis in Athens, a good show of respect to the church and its members is achieved by modest clothing and proper behaviour.
For men, shorts, tank tops or sleeveless shirts, and sandals or flip-flops are frowned upon. Women’s shoulders should not be shown in church, so anything strapless or with thin straps should be avoided. Skirts and dresses should, at a minimum, come below the knee.
Some churches ask that no leg be shown. Feet should be kept on the ground when seated, as it is considered insulting for the bottoms of feet to face holy images.
My top simple-to-follow rules for taking photographs inside churches in Greece
As in many other countries, Greece often requires specific permissions and etiquette which must be followed when taking photographs inside Churches. My post, Beware of Taking Photographs inside Churches in Greece explains why this is the case. But, here are my top simple-to-follow rules for taking photographs inside churches in Greece.
- Look at the entrance before you go inside and see if there are signs informing you not to take photographs.
- If you are unsure whether it is appropriate to take photos, ask a church staff member or another visitor.
- Be respectful of religious services and ceremonies that may be taking place, as it may not be allowed to take photos.
- If you have a mobile phone, turn the volume off or put the phone into aeroplane mode.
- Do not use a selfie stick, tripod or any type of equipment that clips onto or attaches itself to objects while holding your camera or phone.
- Do not take any selfies.
- Be mindful of flash photography which is usually not allowed, as it can be disruptive and disrespectful. Ask permission, and if you have permission to use a flash, do so sparingly.
- Avoid taking photos of people without their permission. Many people come to churches for reflection and prayer and may not want their pictures taken without consent. In particular, Greek law makes it illegal to photograph children (even by accident) without their parent’s consent.
- Think about leaving a contribution in one of the collection boxes or plates on leaving the church.
By following these simple guidelines, you can ensure that your visit to churches in Greece is enjoyable and respectful.