Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Search in posts
Search in pages


Kapnikarea is a Byzantine church on Ermou Street and is dedicated to Virgin Mary.

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1821 - )

    1826 Suffered serious damage.

    1834 It nearly was demolished because it stood in the middle of Ermou Street. It was saved thanks to the intervention of King Otto's father, Louis of Bavaria.

    1863 It nearly was demolished again, but was saved thanks to parishioners.

    1935 It belongs to the University of Athens.

    1942 Beginning of the interior frescoes by Fotis Kontoglou and his students.

  2. Ottoman era (1453- 1821)

  3. Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)

    In the mid 11th century the main church was built.

  4. Roman era (30 BC- 330 AC)

  5. Hellenistic era (322- 31 BC)

  6. Classical era (478-323 BC)

  7. Archaic era (800-479 BC)

  8. Geometric era (-1100- 800 BC)

  9. Prehistory (-1100 BC)

What I can see

The monument has 2 domes. The main church (mid-11th century) is a domed composite four-column cruciform inscribed church, and the north, smaller church, which used to be a chapel of the main one, was probably added during the Ottoman period. It is walled with bricks (i.e. surrounded by limestone rocks fringed with thin bricks). It also has kufic decorative elements and toothed strips. Inside, many interventions have been made over the centuries. The dome is of Athenian type (octagonal with marble panels) and the columns and capitals are from the early Christian and Roman eras. The chapel was constructed on the earlier northern part of the main church. It is dedicated to St. Barbara and an exonarthex, which was formerly an open arcade that was later closed, unites it with the main church. Its dome was intended to imitate the mid-Byzantine dome of the main church, but the clumsiness in terms of construction and masonry is visible.

What I can't see

The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Presentation of Mary) and is built on top of an earlier Byzantine church which was built on top of an ancient temple of either Athena or Demeter. There are three theories regarding the origin of the name Kapnikarea, which prevailed after the Revolution of 1821. The first is associated with the burning of the city in 1690 by the Ottomans. The icon of Mary remained intact but was fumed (Kapnos means fume, in Greek). The second theory is that the church’s second name, Kamoucharea, derived either from the silk fabric on the icon (kamouchas) or from the fabric workshops in the area. The third and most conventional theory is that the name comes from the owner of the church, Kapnikaris, who, by order of Nikephoros I (802-811) collected the smoke tax, established to rescue the Byzantine economy (i.e. a tax for every building with a fireplace, which therefore produced smoke). Other names were: Vasilopoulas (Queen’s) Church, Virgin Mary of Prentzas (chieftain of the Revolution, who undertook its reconstruction), Kamoukarea, Kamikarea, Chrysokamouriotissa, Kamouchariotissa, Hamoukarea and Kamkarea.


  • Address: Ermou St.


Gkioles, N. (2007), The church of Kapnikarea in Athens: Remarks on its history, typology and form,  in Zograf 31 (2006-2007), 15-27.

Panagopoulou A., (2014), Church of Presentation of the Virgin (Kapnikarea), in Navigating the routes of Art and Culture, Part 1, Athens, Ministry of Culture and Sports

Setton K., (1975), Athens in the Middle Ages, London: Variorum Reprints

Giole Ν., (2002), Μνημεία που σώθηκαν, μνημεία που χάθηκαν, [Saved monuments, lost monuments] in Epta Imeres, Οδός Ερμού, η εμπορική καρδιά της Αθήνας, [Ermou st., the commercial heart of Athens], Kathimerini.

Mamaloukos S, (1995), Οι χαμένες βυζαντινές εκκλησίες, η περίοδος μετά την Επανάσταση του 1821 ήταν ολέθρια για τα βυζαντινά μνημεία, [The lost byzantine churches, the period after the Revolution of 1821 was devastating for byzantine monuments], in Epta Imeres, Αφιέρωμα: μνήμες βυζαντινές, [Tribute: byzantine memories], Kathimerini

Moschonas N., (χ.α.), Η τοπογραφία της Αθήνας στη βυζαντινή και μεταβυζαντινή εποχή, [The topography of Athens in byzantine and post-byzantine era], ΕΙΕ,

Last visit 4/5/2013

Unsigned, (d.u.), Καπνικαρέα, [Kapnikarea], Odysseus, Ministry of Culture

Last visit 4/5/2013

Byzantine monuments of Attica, (d.u.), Καπνικαρέα, [Kapnikarea], ΕΙΕ

Last visit 4/5/2013

Stoufi- Poulimenou I., (2013), Χριστιανική και Βυζαντινή Αρχαιολογία και Τέχνη, [Christian and Byzantine archaeology and art], 2nd edition, Athens: Parrisia Publication

Filippidis D., (2003), Νεοκλασική αρχιτεκτονική, ένα μέλλον για το παρελθόν μας, [Neoclassical architecture, future for our past], in Ιστορία του νέου ελληνισμού, 1770-2000, [History of modern Hellenism], v.4, p.p. 131-148.

Bouras C., (2010), Βυζαντινή Αθήνα, 10ος– 12ος αιώνα, [Byzantine Athens 10th– 12th century], Benaki Museum