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Agios Dimítrios Loubardiaris

Agios Dimítrios Loubardiaris (30)

Among the hills of Pnyx and Philopappos, in green pastoral surroundings, stands this charming building. You might assume that it is a small rural guest house or an idyllic weekend cottage, but it is actually a Byzantine church.

It is a small building made of brick, marble and encrusted ceramic fragments, built during the Ottoman occupation in the Byzantine style.

The Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris, which is dedicated to St Demetrius, has a single vaulted nave, and the interior walls are decorated with blind arches. Outside, the decoration consists of geometric shapes, although most of it is attributed to Dimitris Pikionis, the architect responsible for restoring it in the mid-1950s.

During this 20th century restoration process, beautiful icons and fine-quality frescoes were discovered inside and now constitute the main attraction of this church.

However, what has made this church more popular among Athenians is the story that dates from the 17th century concerning the origin of its name.

If you are a fan of stories of poetic justice, you will love this story. According to the story, a Turkish garrison commander of the Acropolis, Yusuf Agha, had planned to fire cannons at the congregation due to gather in the chapel on the feast day of St Demetrius in 1656. According to legend, lightning struck the Propylaea the night before this endeavour, killing the commander and his entire family. Thus, the church and its faithful enjoyed a happy ending. According to this version, the chapel was renamed Loumbardiaris after the biggest bombardier of all the invaders.

It is odd for the name of a church to combine a saint and a terrible weapon of destruction, but such is history, which is full of paradoxes. Do not miss out on this temple with its curious history, and while you are there, be sure to marvel at the beautiful frescoes inside.

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