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
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
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 churchs capitals. The cornice supports the walls
of the upper floor, which is pierced by fifteen windows that light the
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).