Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens

Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens

Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens: The Great Metropolis

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, also known as the Cathedral of the Annunciation or simply the “Great Metropolis” by the Greeks, stands as the largest church in Athens and serves as the seat of the Archbishop of Greece. Situated in the historic Plaka district, just below the Acropolis, this magnificent cathedral is a hub of religious, political, and cultural significance.

A Center of Ceremony and Celebration

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens is not just a place of worship but also a central venue for significant political ceremonies, weddings, and funerals. Notably, on May 14, 1962, Princess Sophia of Greece married the Spanish heir to the throne, later King Juan Carlos I, within its walls. This landmark event is just one example of the cathedral’s role in major national and international occasions.

Architectural Grandeur and Historical Richness

Great Metropolis Church

The Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, or the Great Metropolis Church, features two towering bell towers and an impressive dome that dominates the skyline of Metropolis Square, a bustling area named after the church itself. Inside, visitors can admire numerous frescoes and an impressive iconostasis (icon wall) dating back to 1825. The cathedral is also the final resting place for the relics of two revered martyrs, Saint Philothea (died 1589) and Patriarch Gregory V (died 1821), both significant figures in Greece’s struggle for liberty.

Small Metropolis Church

Adjacent to the grand cathedral is the Small Metropolis Church, one of Athens’ smallest and oldest churches. Measuring just seven by eleven meters, this charming structure was built in the 12th century on the site of an ancient temple. Before the construction of the Great Metropolis Church, it served as the bishop’s church and was particularly associated with prayers and intercessions by pregnant women. Despite its size, the Small Metropolis Church is renowned for its beauty and historical importance.

Metropolis Square

Metropolis Square, surrounding the cathedral, is a lively area filled with shops selling religious artifacts such as candlesticks and icons. Visitors can explore small workshops and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of this central Athens location. A notable feature of the square is the monument dedicated to Archbishop Damaskinos, who established an aid organization during the German occupation to prevent the deportation of Jews.

Visiting the Metropolitan Cathedral

Admission and Accessibility

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens welcomes visitors throughout the year, with no entrance fee required. While there are no official guided tours, visitors can explore the cathedral and its surroundings at their leisure, soaking in the rich history and architectural splendor.

Getting There

Located between the Acropolis and Syntagma Square in Metropolis Square, the cathedral is easily accessible by public transport. Visitors can take the red metro line 2 or the blue line 3 to Syntagma station, followed by a short walk. Alternatively, bus line 025 stops nearby for those who prefer not to walk.

A Historical Overview

Commissioned by Prince Otto of Bavaria, the first king of Greece, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens symbolizes the country’s liberation from Ottoman rule. Construction began in 1842, following Greece’s independence, and took two decades to complete, with the cathedral finally being consecrated on May 21, 1862.

A Vision and a Sacred Site

The site for the cathedral was chosen based on a vision experienced by a nun named Pelagia, who believed that the discovery of the Annunciation icon at this location was linked to Greece’s liberation. This belief endowed the site with significant religious and national importance. Today, a holy water font marks the spot where the icon was found.

Ruins and Reconstruction

During the cathedral’s construction, numerous ancient ruins were unearthed, including the Zoodochos Pigi church, now referred to as Kato Naos or the “Lower Church.” The construction materials for the cathedral included marble from 72 destroyed churches, adding layers of historical and architectural significance to the structure.

Architectural Style and Renovations

The cathedral boasts a blend of Romanesque, Renaissance, and Byzantine architectural styles, evident in its three-nave basilica design. The bell tower, crafted by sculptor Giannis Filippotis and architect Anastasios Orlando in 1958, adds to its grandeur. Listed as a historical monument since 1962, the cathedral underwent extensive renovations after sustaining damage in the 1999 earthquake.

Practical Information

  • Address: Mitropoleos 48-50, Athina 105 56
  • Public Transport: Red metro line 2 and blue line 3, Syntagma station
  • Opening Hours: Open all year round

For more details, visit the Wiki.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens stands as a testament to Greece’s rich cultural and religious heritage. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an architecture aficionado, or simply a curious traveler, a visit to this iconic cathedral offers a profound glimpse into the heart of Athens.

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