The Church of Panagia Kapnikarea (Greek: Εκκλησία της Παναγίας Καπνικαρέας) or just Kapnikarea (Greek: Καπνικαρέα) is a Greek Orthodox church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and is one of the oldest churches in Athens. The church is located in the centre of the modern city of Athens, right in the middle of the high-traffic shopping area of Ermou street, at the edge of the Plaka district.
It is estimated that the church was built some time in the 11th century, perhaps around 1050. As it was common with the early Christian churches, this was built over an ancient Greek pagan temple dedicated to the worship of a goddess, possibly Athena or Demeter.
It appears that the Kapnikarea church may have originally been the katholikon of a monastery. Presently, the building is formed by a complex of three different units attached together; these units were built in succession:
a) the largest south church dedicated to the Presentation of Mary to the Temple;
b) the chapel of St Barbara on the northern side, and;
c) the exonarthex with the propylon, which are today on the western end. The larger of the two churches, the south one, is a domed complex, cross-in-square, has been dated (on the basis of morphological criteria) to just after the middle of the 11th century.
This post is part of the Spiritual Sundays meme,
and also part of the inSPIREd Sunday meme.