Panagia Pantanassa Dormition of the Virgin Mary Monastiraki Sq., Monastiraki
The church of Panagia Pantanassa.
At one of the busiest spots of Athens, at the Monastiraki square, is one of the oldest but lesser known churches in the city, dedicated to Panagia Pantanassa. Nowadays, the church is lower than the ground level, due to the newer formation of the area around it. In its original form, however, it dominated this central area of the city.
The church of Pantanassa is a three-aisle basilica, whose middle aisle is roofed with a semi-circular vault, which on the east and west ends in conches with squinches. This way of roofing is characteristic of the Ottoman architecture and is applied to mosques and secular buildings already from the 15th c., imitating the conches of Agia Sophia in Constantinople. The side aisles are roofed with cross-vaults. For the construction of the walls abundant material from ancient buildings was used. The interior of the church is decorated with more recent wall paintings, while significant portable icons survive as well.
The present day surviving church dates probably from the beginning of the 17th c. and is built over an older monument. As we are informed by a patriarchal sigil of 1678, it was the catholicon of a women’s monastery, the metochi of the Monastery of Kaisariani, to which it was donated by Nikolaos Bonefatzis. In this period it was called Mega Monastiri (Large Monastery), however a few years later the monastery declined, and since 1821 the name Monastiraki prevailed and it was given to the wider area as well. In the year 1890, renovations were made to the monument and a stone bell tower was erected, which was later, in 1911, replaced by the present day one. After the liberation from the Turkish occupation, it went through two significant renovations. One during the second part of the 19th c. and the later in 1911, by architect Ioannis Kolliniatis.