Church of Panagia Kapnikarea
Where is the Church of Panagia Kapnikarea
The Church of Panagia Kapnikarea, also known as the Church of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, is a must-see for visitors to Athens. It was built over an ancient Greek temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena or Demeter. Thousands of people walk by this church each day, without perhaps realising it is one of the oldest churches in Athens.
Built around 1050 AD, the church is located in the centre of Athens, right in the middle of the high-traffic shopping area of Ermou street, at the edge of the Plaka district, and only two minutes’ walk from the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens.
It is probably the second oldest church in Athens and has undergone numerous renovations over the centuries. The most notable renovation was carried out in the 16th century by the renowned architect Andronikos Kaldis.
The church features several striking frescoes, including one depicting the Virgin Mary breastfeeding Jesus.
It has a unique name, “Kapnikarea”, which may refer to the Byzantine tax “kapnikon”, or some say it derives from the word “kapnismeni” which in Greek means “smoked”, due to the marks of fire that are seen on the building.
The architectural design of Kapnikarea is also special; it is a multifaceted edifice, that is constituted by three different parts; the main church at the southern part, which is dedicated to Panagia and may have been the katholikon of a monastery; the chapel dedicated to Agia Varvara at the northern part; and the exonarthex at the western side.
The Mosaic of the Madonna and child at the south entrance.
The inside of the dome is breathtaking.
Directly under the dome.
There is wheelchair access down and into the church.