While ambling in the narrow streets of Athens, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the ancient temples and ruins of the Classical and Roman era, often neglecting the churches that grace the historical trail leading back to the Byzantine and Ottoman period. Some of these shrines are too small to notice, perched on rocks, camouflaged with trees, or obscured by neighboring buildings; others remain sealed for most of the year and linger in idle darkness, livening up only on the commemoration day of the saint to whom they are dedicated; most might be mistaken for just another worship haven in a typical Orthodox Christian society. They all serve though as mystic guides, navigating the voyager, through their structure and occult legends, into the secrets of an enigmatic and magical chapter of the city’s tale.
Selecting only a few churches is not doing justice to the rich Byzantine inheritance that bespeckles the city and blends – by coincidence or design – with marble remnants, houses, rocks, and courtyards, adding to the kaleidoscope that epitomizes the essence of Athens today. Still, there is an intense emotional familiarity with some of them, and my steps frequently lead me to this personal pilgrimage route penciled on the map of my hometown. [Read more…]