Catholic Cathedral of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite in Athens
The Catholic Cathedral of Saint Dionysius Areopagite in Athens, Greece: In the corner of Panepistimiou and Omirou Streets, right in the heart of Athens, the impressive church of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite is one of the city’s most significant religious edifices.
Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, one of the three protectors of Athens, was a judge of the Areopagus who was converted to Christianity, becoming the second Bishop of Athens. The church was built in his honor and constitutes the seat of the Athenian Roman Catholic Archbishop. The funds regarding the cathedral’s resurgence were raised by the Greek-Roman Catholic community, as well as other members of the Catholic Church abroad.
The design was assigned to the renowned architect Leo von Klenze, while the famous Greek architect Lyssandros Kaftantzoglou took up the revision of the original plans, while the building process was completed in 1853. The cathedral is a three-aisled basilica of Neo-Renaissance style, with elaborate arches and pillars that result into an imposing temple with simple architectural lines of Athenian classicism.
The roof is supported with 12 columns, 5 meters each, made of green marble from Tinos island. The platform of the chorus, with the pipe organ on top, was designed in 1888 by the architect Paul Chambaut. On the right and the left of the Bema, there are two marble pulpits (stands of speakers) donated by the Emperor of Austria Francis Joseph I during his visit in Athens in 1869. The interior is decorated with skillfully crafted illustrations, such as the “Apotheosis of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite” by Guglielmo Bilancioni, while the four Evangelists appear as pillars, having a unique artistic and metaphorical significance. Very impressive are also the eight vitraux on both sides of the windows in the lower part of the church. These vitraux were made in the 1890s in Munich by Karl de Bouchet. Some architectural additions were made in the early 20th century, while in 1960 the church was renovated for the first time. In 1962, the marriage of Princess Sofia of Greece and Juan Carlos of Spain took place in a memorable ceremony.
From 1992 to 1998, the restoration operations of both the interior and the exterior were undertaken by the architects Yannis Kizis and Dimitris Leventis. Nowadays, the cathedral is a must-see monument of supreme architecture, that definitely worths the visit.