Athens Greece – Church of Kapnikarea

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Let us now visit the church of Kapnikarea. The simplest way to get there, is to return to Plateia Syntagmatos (Constitution Square) and then turn right into Odos Ermou. A few minutes’ walk along this street will bring us to this famous church.

Actually, Kapnikarea consists of two churches: the original structure, dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin, a mid-eleventh century cruciform building with a dome supported by four columns with Roman capitals, and a nave with a smaller dome, dedicated to St. Barbara, which was later added on the north. In the twelfth century the two churches were joined into one and an exonarthex with series of gabled roofs and four large bays separated by columns was added on the west. The charming little porch on the south also dates from the twelfth century. The mosaic of the Madonna and Child over the portal is, however, of modern workmanship.

The name “Kapnikarea” is of doubtful origin. Though it is generally believed that this name is derived from the occupation of its putative founder, a collector of the hearth-tax (hearth equals smoke) others contend that the name is a corruption of Kamoucharea, by which the church was also known, probably from its proximity to a weaver of Kamouchas, a Byzantine term for cloth woven with golden threads.

Let us now turn back into Odos Ermou, walking in the direction of Plateia Syntagmatos (Constitution Square), and take the first turn on the right; this will bring us to Plateia Mitropoleos.

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