Koimissi Theotokou Chryssospiliotissa Ι. Ν. ΚΟΙΜΙΣΕΩΣ ΤΗΣ ΘΕΟΤΟΚΟΥ ΧΡΥΣΟΣΠΗΛΑΙΩΤΙΣΣΗΣ (Dormition of the Virgin Mary) 60, Aiolou St., Downtown
Kimissi Theotokou Chryssospiliotissa
In the heart of the historic commercial district of Athens, on Aiolou Street, the visitor will encounter the church of Panagia Chryssospiliotissa, or The Dormition of the Virgin Mary, first constructed in 1705. Its name comes either from the fact that the Monastery of Mega Speleo contributed in its construction, or by an icon of the Virgin Mary, which was a replica of the monastery’s icon.
The first church, a basilica built in 1705, was destroyed during the siege of the Acropolis by Kioutahi Pasha, in 1826. In 1832, and following the establishment of the Greek state, the process of rebuilding the church started on the ruins of the old one, which soon proved to be inadequate in size, so in 1846 efforts for building an even newer and larger church got started.
The plans of the church were made by architect Dimitrios Zezos, who is considered to be the person who introduced the “Greek-Byzantine” architectural style. The foundations of the church started in 1863, while its construction was completed several years later, in 1892, due to the enormous cost, for that time, which was mainly covered by fundraising efforts among the faithful. Since Zezos died before the beginning of its construction, two other great architects supervised the works, initially Panagis Kalkos and, finally, Ernst Ziller, who is thought to have designed the screen as well, while the dome was the work of the architect Dimitrios Soutsos, then mayor of Athens.
The church is a three-aisle basilica with elaborate octagonal steeples at the narthex. It is a characteristic example of eclecticism, a style that was dominant in the 19th century and combined neoclassical with Byzantine elements. The meticulous cloisonne masonry and the double-light windows are combined with antefixes and marble decorations. The church’s interior decoration was completed in 1892 and was made by well-known artists of that period.