Athens Daphni monastery

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Location: Haidari

The Monastery of Daphni in Athens: The Monastery of Daphni is located on the northwestern side of Athens, in the area of Haidari. It was originally built in the 6th century but it has received many additions through time. This monastery was built on the site of an ancient Greek temple dedicated to Apollo Daphneos. This temple was destroyed during a Gothic invasion in 395 BC and later on, the Byzantines built a monastery on this site.

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Just like other Byzantine structures of the era, the monastery has a cross-in-square katholikon that resembles like an octagonal structure and has a huge dome on top of it. The walls of the monastery are very strong and were built like this because it was located outside the city walls. The central portion is rectangular in shape due to the extension near the narthex and exonarthex area at the western end.

In the 13th century, the Crusaders built some cloisters in the yard and some additional cells were added in the 16th century. In this section, there is a unique display of beautiful Classical and Byzantine sculptures. It is believed that in this section, two 13th century French Dukes have been buried. On the inside, visitors can see the best-preserved mosaics from the early Comnenian era (about 1100 AD) depicting scenes from the Bible, saints and prophets against a shiny golden backdrop.

In 1990, the Monastery of Daphni in Athens was included by UNESCO in the list of World Heritage Monuments. Unfortunately, the 1999 earthquake destroyed major portions of this magnificent monastery. Restoration works are still going on and the monastery is currently closed to the public.

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