Although Athens is an expensive city visiting churches is for free and you will be surprised of how many churches you’ll see around. The majority of them are Byzantine Orthodox churches, usually with a red tile dome. There used to be about 150 churches from a long period covered the early Christian years to the post-byzantine period but you can only see the ruins of them or in some other cases the new ones that replaced them. There are also many new ones and it makes you wonder what’s the point of having so many churches…
If you go down Mitropoleos street from Syntagma you will see the cathedral of Athens (pic 1). It is under construction because of several damages during the 2001 earthquake in Athens The Bishop of Athens use to lead the main orthodox ceremonial events here. A lot of weddings and funerals of “important” people. The church is open til 19:00. The cathedral was built in 1842 (although it was completed in 1862). In front of the church (pic 2) is a statue of Damaskinos Papandreu that was the bishop of Athens (1941-49)
Sometimes you may catch the mass inside or small ceremonies at the front like the one with the philarmonic band I saw one saturday morning(pic 3)
Next to the cathedral you can see the medieval Little Mitropoli (pic 4) with the name Panagia Gorgoepikoos that was built in 12th century. Sometimes they tourists go away but for me this small church is way far more impressive than the big one next to it.
In Mitrópolis Square, which is reached from Syntagma Square by way of Mitropóleos Street, are two churches of very different character - the medieval Little Mitrópolis and the modern Great Mitrópolis.
As a cathedral, the Mitrópoli is the seat of the Bishop of Athens. It remains a major city landmark and the site of important ceremonies like coronations of royals and weddings and funerals of the rich and famous. It was built since 1842 till 1862.
You may watch my high resolution photo of Athens on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 37º 58' 31.51" N 23º 43' 46.06" E or on my Google Earth Panoramio Mitrópoli (Cathedral) .
Mitropolis, Cathedral of Athens, Church of The Annunciation of The Virgin- these are all names for this large 19th Century place of Worship.
In 1842, construction began, using the remnants of 70 other demolished churches (many destroyed during the Turkish occupation). The architect, E. Schaubert, was German.
Work was completed 20 years later in 1862.
Open from 06.30 - 1900.
I'm afraid that I didn't get the chance to see the inside, there was a service attended by the President, then another televised service on the 2 times I decided to visit.
Apparently, the interior resembles St Marks Cathedral in Venice.
As well as being the chief centre for Greek Orthodox worship, and being the seat of the Bishop of Athens, the Cathedral also has political importance, as new Greek Leaders are sworn in here.
The Mitropoli or Cathedral is obviously the largest church in Athens and lends its name to the street parallel to Ermou, the shopping district. The Mitropoli is not a historic landmark in and of itself - that is left to the more modest but older Agios Eleftherios beside it - but it is an impressive structure that presents many lovely icons and a spectacular exterior.
Please be aware that Orthodox Christian clergy are more conservative in terms of appropriate attire than many Western priests. Tourists who enter wearing tank tops or shorts (especially women) may be asked to leave. You needn't pay to enter any church, but it is appreciated if you light a candle (candles usually cost 20 cents).
Mitropoli is the largest church in Athens and the seat of the Bishop of Athens. Construction began on Christmas Day in 1842 when King Otto and Queen Amalia laid the cornerstone. It was finished 20 years later under the direction of 3 architects. It was dedicated to the Evangelismos Theotokou (Annunciation of the Virgin) in 1862.
The church has been used for coronations, and the weddings and funerals of famous Athenians. The bodies of 2 saints murdered by the Ottoman Turks are located inside, along with some beautiful icons and decorations. The exterior in front of the main entrance is decorated with mosaics.
Hours are 6:30am-7pm daily. There is a dress code. No shorts or bare shoulders. Women must wear a skirt that runs past the knees. Men must wear long pants.
MITROPOLI - THE ATHENS CATHERAL is along Mitropoleos street. Not that you must visit it but I just happened to chance upon it while looking around for Ivis Travel. It's the travel agent recommended by Ivan for my arrangement to Santorini. They are quite good & you can also get your dosage of online access here should you wish to do so. I was told it's around Euro 2 for an hour. Look for the post office & you should be able to find it quite easily. It's across from the post office.
Anyhow, The Athens Cathedral seems to be a tourist attraction as I came across many groups. One funny phenomenon (which sometimes I do without thinking as well :-( ) is people just go into churches & cathedrals & "snapped" pictures!!! As soon as they are done, they are out of there! It's not quite right as far as I'm concerned (well, when my mind is working, that is, lol...). It's afterall a place for worship. So, I try to at the very least say a prayer of thanks if I've nothing else to say at that moment.
By the way, the cathedral is also the official seat of the Bishop of Athens. Ceremonial events like the coronation of the kings & weddings & funerals of the rich & famous are being held here.