Photo: Georgios Makkas

Orthodox churches are breathtakingly beautiful, with ornate designs and wall paintings that celebrate the beauty and creativity of life.

By Diane Shugart

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Photo: Georgios Makkas

Agia Dynami

Panagia Gorgoepikoos (Agios Eleftherios)

Photo: Georgios Makkas

Photo: Georgios Makkas

Agia Triada Sotira Lykodimou

Agia Irini

Photo: Georgios Makkas

Decor inside the church.

Photo: Giorgios Makkas

Agia Eleousa

Agia Fotini

Photo: Georgios Makkas

The Ilissos Basilica

Dating to the 5th century, this is one of the earliest churches in Athens. 
The site is currently inaccessible to the public while excavations continue, but sections of the basilica’s floor can be seen at the Byzantine and Christian Museum. Sections of the basilica were repurposed by the Ottomans in the late 18th century and used for construction of the city walls. 

Agios Dimitrios Loubardiaris

Photo: Georgios Makkas

Notable Churches in Athens

Oldest church in Athens

Hallowed ground: Megali Panagia is Athens' oldest church.

Photo: Georgios Makkas

Best church for observing weddings

Agia Ekaterini is one of the most popular churches in Athens for weddings. It’s a great place to watch the nuptials, as it sits a few steps below street level, offering a ‘balcony’ for observers around its courtyard. The 11th-century church is built on the ruins of a temple to Artemis.

Most popular church for baptisms

The churches on Philopappou Hill are associated with baptisms. The 12th-century Agios Dimitrios Loubardiaris, with its exquisite stone-paved courtyard and 18th century frescoes, is high on Athenians’ preferences for open-air ceremonies. A  short distance away, a rock-hewn 13th-century church within the imposing Agia Marina is equally popular.

Best churches for Easter services

On Good Friday, head to Agios Georgios atop Lycabettus Hill for the candle-lit epitafios procession. As the candlelit vigil snakes down the hill, you can also spot the processions taking place around each of the city’s parishes. 
The ‘Holy Light’ from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is received at its dependency in Plaka (Metohi tou Panagiou Tafou) from where it is sent to churches across Greece. 

The poignancy of Orthodox Holy Week is captured in its hymns. Experience the moving services at Agia Irini with its Byzantine choir, culminating with the Anastasi service at midnight, symbolising the resurrection of Christ. On Holy Saturday morning, Agia Sotira has a beautiful service accompanied by the church organ.

The only round church in Athens

Designed by Ernst Ziller in 1880, Agios Nikolaos Thon is the only surviving structure of the sprawling estate that belonged to Nikolaos Thon, a wealthy courtier of King George I, who funded several public buildings in Athens, including the National Theatre. He also helped organise the 1906 Olympic Games. Peer inside for a glimpse of the stained glass windows that Thon had imported from Russia.