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Church of Panagia Kapnikarea
Church of Panagia Kapnikarea

Church of Panagia Kapnikarea

Free admission
Kapnikarea Platz, Athens, Greece, 105 56

The Basics

There is no charge to enter Kapnikarea Church, more formally known as the Church of Panagia Kapnikarea, and many travelers swing by while strolling Ermou or exploring downtown Athens independently. A number of Athens city tours stop here, generally walking tours, bicycle tours, or electric bicycle tours. History buffs and fans of Byzantine architecture should join a tour that focuses on medieval Athens or the Byzantine era, perhaps one that visits the Byzantine and Christian Museum.

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Things to Know Before You Go

  • History buffs and fresco fans will particularly appreciate Kapnikarea Church.

  • When visiting Greek Orthodox places of worship, cover shoulders and knees.

  • Access to Kapnikarea Church involves a low step that will challenge people who use manual wheelchairs.

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How to Get There

The Kapnikarea Church stands pretty much at the center of Ermou, Athens’ main shopping street, about half a mile (800 meters) north of the Acropolis and under five minutes’ walk from Monastiraki metro station (lines 1 and 3). Driving and parking in downtown Athens is an ordeal, as is the city’s impenetrable one-way system: Public transport or tours are the way to go.

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Trip ideas


When to Get There

Kapnikarea Church generally opens to visitors from morning until after lunch on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, although hours can change without warning. Greek Orthodox travelers and curious Christians can attend services on Sunday mornings and during Greek Orthodox festivals. The period around Greek Orthodox Easter is a great time to visit any Greek Orthodox church.

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The Story of Kapnikarea Church

Nobody knows how Kapnikarea Church got its name, but it dates back to the middle of the 11th century when it likely formed part of a monastery. It’s built on the remains of a classical temple dedicated to a female goddess and duly pays tribute to Christianity’s dominant female icon, the Virgin Mary. The dome is supported by Roman-era columns.

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