Aghios Dionyssios Catholic Church

Panepistimiou and Omirou Sts, Athens, 1853-65

Architect of the initial design
Leo von Klenze (1784-1864)
Amendment of design and supervision by architect
Lysandros Kaftantzoglou (1811-1885)

Restoration of the exterior (1992-94) and conservation of interior (1995-98), architect
Yannis Kizis,
associate architect
Dimitris Leventis

The Catholic church of St Dionysios the Areopagite is one of the most important monuments in the centre of Athens, near the 19th-century Athenian Trilogy, i.e. the Library, University and Academy.
Construction began on the church in 1853, on the basis of designs by the outstanding Bavarian architect Leo von Klenze that were amended by his distinguished Greek colleague Lysandros Kaftantzoglou. It was officially opened in 1865.
The church belongs to the type of the three-aisled basilica. Its position elevated above Panepistimiou Ave gives it authority. A broad marble stairway leads up to the church. Its west side is adorned with a marvellous porch designed by Kaftantzoglou in the neo-Renaissance style. This porch has five semi-circular arches that rest on four Tuscan-style pillars and two side arches supported by four large pillars. At the back of the porch, three portals open onto the three aisles of the basilica. The raised section of the church, with the pitched roof and marble cornice that indicate the nave or middle aisle, crowns the facades. It has triangular pediments on the west and east sides and arched openings. The three arched windows on the west side are surrounded by sculpted marble decoration, while the four arched openings in the north and south faces are more simply decorated. The four-storey bell tower rises slightly over the church roof. Its last floor has four semi-circular arches of white marble that support the roof.
The porch was built in 1886-7 under the supervision of architect P. Sampo. The three-part layout of the main church is created by two rows of six cylindrical monolithic columns and two pillars of green Tinos marble. The Renaissance capitals are well fashioned and inspired by the Erechtheum. Between the columns are seven semi-circular arches that have a cornice with a blue frieze representing the palm trees and the crosses on the church’s capitals. The cornice supports the walls of the upper floor, which is pierced by fifteen windows that light the nave.
The sanctuary is separated from the nave by a multicoloured marble parapet designed by Kaftantzoglou.
In 1992-94, the exterior of the church was restored in an exemplary manner by architect Giannis Kizis, professor at the NTUA, and his associate Dimitris Leventis, who also designed and supervised the restoration works on the interior of the church and the bell tower (1995-97).