The church of Agios Nikolaos Rangavas is situated on Prytaneiou street, known since the ancient times, in Plaka, the oldest neighborhood of Athens, where one can admire unique buildings from various historical periods.
Built in the second half of the 11th century, near the Anafiotika neighborhood of Plaka, the church was part of the estate of the Rangavas family. The name Rangavas is inscribed on a small column that was found in the dome. It is possible that there is a relation of Leon Rangavas with the family of the Byzantine Emperor Michael I Rangabe (811-813).
The historic bell of the church of Agios Nikolaos Rangavas.
The history of the church is a turbulent one, since in 1687, during the siege of the Acropolis by the Venetian Morosini, part of the monument was destroyed by a cannon ball. The church was repaired in the 18th c. and restored again in the 1970s. As most of the Athenian churches, Agios Nikolaos Rangavas has seen a lot of architectural interventions. Among others, the chapel of Agia Paraskevi was added to the south side. From the Byzantine period the northern side and the dome of the church still survive. Like most older churches of Athens, it incorporates ancient marble columns and other remains of ancient buildings in its external walls.
The dome interior of the church of Agios Nikolaos Rangavas.
Architecturally the church belongs to the type of the simple, four-columned, cross-in-square church with an “Athenian” type dome, and has been constructed with the characteristic, for Byzantine monuments, cloisonné masonry, where the stones are framed by bricks. Even though it has seen many changes through the years, it is considered one of the most important Byzantine monuments in Athens and is definitely worth visiting.
The church of Agios Nikolaos was the first to receive a bell in Athens after the War of Independence (1821). This bell, which is now kept inside the church, was the first to ring out after the city's liberation from the German occupation, on October 12, 1944.