Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Friday 23 July |
Saint of the Day: St. Bridget of Sweden
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

The 16th-century Athens church preserved beneath a modern building

AGIA DYNAMI CHURCH

Athenswalk | CC BY SA 3.0

V. M. Traverso - published on 08/24/18

The Greek Orthodox church refused to relocate Agia Dynami, the church of "Holy Power," during the city's urban expansion.

In the 1950s the city of Athens was undergoing  a period of fast urban growth and the municipal government started to expand its infrastructure to meet the needs of a booming population. Part of it involved the creation of new ministerial buildings in Athens’ city center. The perfect location for the new headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Religion was found on a patch of land located right behind the famous Syntagma Square, populated by a few stores and a tiny Byzantine church that could have easily been relocated.

CHURCH OF AGIA DYNAMIS
Photo by Luke Cabading



But the Greek Orthodox Church refused to give the property up. Next, something unusual happened. Instead of finding an alternative location for the ministerial building, the Greek government decided to go ahead and built it, wrapping the church within the walls of the new building.

AGIA DYNAMIS
Photo by Luke Cabading

Since then, Agia Dynami, built in the 16th century in honor of the Virgin Mary, has been standing as an architectural symbol of the resilience of traditions in the face of modernity.

AGIA DYNAMIS
Photo by Luke Cabading

But its unusual location, squeezed between the supporting pillars of the ministerial building, which was recently converted into a hotel, is not the only interesting feature of this church. Agia Dynami—literally “Holy Power”—-also hosts an underground tunnel that reaches a large cave system, which according to some is directly connected to the Acropolis. And an inscription found at its entrance says that this tiny barrel-vaulted church was built on top of a pre-existing pagan temple dedicated to Herakles, who for the Greeks was a heroic demigod of remarkable strength—perhaps not a coincidence after all.

Tags:
ArchitectureGreece
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
HEADACHE
Kathleen N. Hattrup
2 Bible verses when you’re weary down to the soul
2
nightbirde
Cerith Gardiner
8 Powerful quotes from Nightbirde that will fill you with hope
3
FRAY JUNIPERO SERRA
John Burger
Alumni sue after this Catholic saint’s name was removed fro...
4
CARDINAL
J-P Mauro
Italian police dressed as priests nab scammers disguised as cardi...
5
WEB2-Benjamin_West_-_Joshua_passing_the_River_Jordan_with_the_Ark_of_the_Covenant_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg
Daniel Esparza
Who are the cherubim in the Bible?
6
Blessed Carlo Acutis
J-P Mauro
The Diocese of Brooklyn acquires first-class relic of Bl. Carlo A...
7
ŁACINA
Philip Kosloski
Why is Latin the official language of the Church, instead of Aram...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.