In the heart of the Hellenic city, specifically in “Metropoleos” square (located in the street that bears his name), we can find the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. A place that normally (and sadly as well) tourists do NOT visit, since normally the passers-by take the street parallel to it, from where the cathedral is not visible.
It is one of the first great monuments of Athens, after it was crowned as the capital of Greece. The also called Cathedral of the Annunciation of St. Mary is the church of the Archbishop of Athens, and of all Greece. So, religiously speaking, this is the most important monument in the whole country!
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A bit of history…
Greece gets its “independence” in 1834 (maybe sometime I will write an article about why I use quotation marks in the term “independence”), after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in these lands, which had been here for almost 4 centuries…
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It is in this context when the first king of modern Greece, Otto I, lays the first stone for the construction of this cathedral (in 1842). However, its construction would not be completed until 20 years later.
Here’s an action that involved a lot of controversy:
It turns out that it took a lot of marble to build something as big as the Metropolitan Cathedral, so 72 other churches were demolished to obtain it. That’s right, these were smaller churches from the Byzantine era. It has even been speculated that many more temples were also demolished in order to obtain the marble they were made of. In this case, we would be talking about constructions that could be more than 2,000 years old…
Today the Metropolitan Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Athens, as well as an important spiritual center of Greek Orthodoxy. Many official ceremonies are held here, such as coronations and important weddings and funerals.
Architecture of the Cathedral of the Annunciation of St. Mary
Its initial design was created by the Danish Baron Theophilus Hansen, which included many Gothic and Renaissance elements. Incidentally, this man was also the architect in charge of the construction of the Academy of Athens, the National Library of Greece and the Zappeion, among others.
However, the Metropolitan Cathedral was finally built following the designs of Demetrios Zezos, giving a more “Greek-Byzantine” style to this monument.
Finally and after many more modifications, this Church or Cathedral falls into the type of three-nave domed basilica; combining the neoclassical but also the Greek-Byzantine style.
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The Cathedral of the Annunciation of St. Mary of Athens is 20 meters wide, 40 meters long and 24 meters high. The main entrance of the building is highlighted by an arcade supported by Corinthian columns. On the other hand, it has two twin bell towers whose design was influenced by western ecclesiastical architecture.
If we talk about the interior of the church, it should be noted that it is decorated with works of famous artists of the nineteenth century:
- The murals were painted by Alexander Seitz and Spyridon Giallinas.
- The person responsible for the decoration is Konstantinos Fanellis, who came from Smyrna.
- Georgios Fytalis, from the island of Tinos, was in charge of the sculptures.