Kapnikarea

kapnikarea1The byzantine church of Kapnikarea is one of the major landmarks of Athens’ Byzantine past. Dating from the 11th century, it is dedicated to the “Presentation of the Virgin to the Temple,” and lies in the middle of Ermou street. It is believed that the church was built over an older, Christian temple, commissioned in the 5th Century A.C. by the Athenian Empress of Byzantine, Eudokia, wife of Emperor Theodosius the Younger. Constructed atop the foundations of the ancient temple of Athena or, perhaps, Demeter, it is today owned by the University of Athens.

Constructed as a domed, cross-in-square complex, the three sections of the church were built at separate times; In the early 20th Century, the chapel of St. Barbara was added to the northern section of the church. Many of the interior murals were painted by famed artist, Fotis Kondoglou. The temple owes its name to its first owner who, according to tradition, collected the “Tobacco Tax” (kapnikos foros) in the city. Yet another tradition is connected to the church’s older name, “Kamouharea,” the famous silk cloth workshops (kamouhades) that operated in the area.

Source: www.athensattica.gr

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