Metropoleos Square ΠΛΑΤΕΙΑ ΜΗΤΡΟΠΟΛΕΩΣ the Pious neighborhood
Metropoleos Square, a few hundred yards away from Syntagma Square and the center of the city through the narrow historic Metropoleos Street which leads to Monastiraki Square, is where the Metropolis, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens is situated. The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Annunciation, aka the "Mētrópolis", is the seat of the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, whose official residence is very close by on Agias Filotheis street.
Construction of the Cathedral began on Christmas Day, 1842 with the laying of the cornerstone by King Othon and Queen Amalia. Workers used marble from several ancient temples and a few churches to build the Cathedral's immense walls. Three architects and twenty years later, it was complete. On May 21, 1862, the Cathedral was dedicated to the Annunciation of the Mother of God, by the King and Queen. The Cathedral is a three-aisled, domed basilica that measures 130 ft (40 m) long, 65 ft (20 m) wide, and 80 ft (24 m) high. Inside are the tombs of two Christian saints killed by the Turks during the Ottoman rule: St. Philothei and Patriarch Gregory V. The Metropolis Cathedral was heavily damaged from the earthquake of 1999, and following extensive structural and decorative repairs it was again open to the public in mid 2016.
Right next to the Metropolis as we see it's main entrance, is the much smaller church, of Panagia Gorgoepikoos or Agios Eleftherios, also called the "Little (Small) Metropoli". Several coffee shops, but also a number of stores offering ecclesiastical clothing, liturgical paraphernalia, icons, etc., can be found all around the square. If you are a Greek-Orthodox living abroad and you wish to offer a little something to your local church, this is the place to be!
On Metropoleos Street, we highly recommendErgon deli & restaurant at 23 Mitropoleos Street, and Athinaikon restaurant (tel.: 210 325 2888with excellent Greek cuisine at 34 Mitropoleos, but also Serse La Fam, (tel.: 210 322 2079) which offers a small yet very enticing menu for a break in your busy day.
In the vicinity of Metropoleos Square, The Athens Key recommends the newest addition of hotels in Athens and one of the excellent Electra hotels, Electra Metropolis Hotel. At the street level of the hotel, try ΛΟΒΒΥ, a burger lounge with fine selections of burgers, mini burgers, salads and appetizers as well as drinks and cocktails. tel.: 214 100 6225. A few steps away from the Metropolitan Cathedral, you will find Best Western Plus Amazon Hotel. All 42 A/C rooms and suites are tastefully decorated, they have free Wi-Fi and are equipped with a TV with satellite and cable channels, safety box and minibar. There is also a bar and a cafeteria, where guests can enjoy their drink or a snack. Finally, Ergon House Hotel, on Metropoleos Street is an excellent choice!
Visit the Bead Store Alexopoulos-Dedoussi, on 6 Palaiologou Benizelou Street (2nd floor), that leads to Metropoleos Square coming from Plaka. It is a real paradise for traditional Greek komboloi, or worry beads, a true sign that you have been to Greece. Ready-made, or all the components, from thread to decorative end-pieces, to ceramic, glass, plastic, metallic beads of all kinds and qualities so that you may create yourselves, just like I do for years now, and at very affordable prices.
Scenes in Athens
"The smallest of Athenian churches is, curiously enough, the old Cathedral, seat of the Metropolitan until some years following the liberation, but now superseded by the new basilica on its northern flank. Once closely beset by the bazaar, this gem of byzantine architecture now stands free to the admiration of all who pass directly between the great square and the western end of the Acropolis. The walls are composed of antique blocks, many of them inscribed and some bearing reliefs... the whole structure is a marvel of miniature proportions and mellow tones."
Scenes in Athens described by David Hogarth, c. 1900
The area is full with stores selling ecclesiastical artifacts, icons and paraphernalia catering to the priesthood, local, national and, indeed international, as well as the church officials who frequent the immediate area because of the proximity to the Archdiocese and the Metropolis.
Metropoleos square is embelished by two statues. The one is of Agios Constantinos XI, the last Byzantine Emperor, pictured above. The second is of Archbishop Damaskinos who served as Archbishop of Athens during World War II, below.