Agia Irini church in Athens
At the corner of Eolou and Athinas street in Monastiraki, in one of the most renowned downtown spots, one can find the impressive church of Agia Irini.
Agia Irini is an aisled basilica with an impressive dome and two belfries. The elegant temple was originally constructed during the Turkish Rule and served as a significant meeting point of the Christians during those challenging times. Certain sources mention that the edifice was built by using ruins of more than 70 older Byzantine churches, as well as parts of the ancient ruins of the Acropolis Hill.
After the liberation of Greece in 1821 and the establishment of the modern Greek State, and as the capital was transferred from the city of Nafplio to that of Athens, the church of Agia Irini became the city’s metropolis. As the constructive works for a new metropolis were delayed, in 1846 the famous architect Lyssandros Kaftatzoglou was assigned with the reconstruction of the church. The restoration works were completed in 1850 and the talented architect managed to yield a very special character to the temple, by blending neoclassical, Roman and Byzantine elements, while the elaborate interior illustrations were completed in 1892.
The church of Agia Irini was declared as a monument of special interest in 1972 by the Ministry of Culture and was restored by the Department of Byzantine antiquities in 1995.