Daphni Monastery
Dafní or Daphní is a monastery 11 km north-west of downtown Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 in Chaidari
Chaidari , is a suburb in the west northwestern part of Athens, Greece. The two mountaintops of Aigaleo lies to the north and south...

, south of Athinon Avenue (GR-8A). It is situated near the forest of the same name, on the Sacred Way
Sacred Way
The Sacred Way , in ancient Greece, was the road from Athens to Eleusis. It was so called because it was the route taken by a procession celebrating the Eleusinian Mysteries...

 that led to Eleusis. The forest covers about 15 to 20 km².

The Daphnion was founded about the turn of the 6th century, Christianizing
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

 the site of the Sanctuary of Apollo Daphnaios
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 that had been desecrated by the Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 in 395, and reusing the Ionic columns of the ancient temple of Apollo in its portico; only one remains, the others having been removed to London by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin
Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin
Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin and 11th Earl of Kincardine was a Scottish nobleman and diplomat, known for the removal of marble sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens. Elgin was the second son of Charles Bruce, 5th Earl of Elgin and his wife Martha Whyte...


The principal church (catholikon), a fine monument of the 11th-century Byzantine art
Byzantine art
Byzantine art is the term commonly used to describe the artistic products of the Byzantine Empire from about the 5th century until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453....

, is a cross-in-square
The term cross-in-square or crossed-dome denotes the dominant architectural form of middle- and late-period Byzantine churches. The first cross-in-square churches were probably built in the late 8th century, and the form has remained in use throughout the Orthodox world until the present day...

 church of the octagonal type surmounted by a broad and high dome. The church houses the best preserved complex of mosaic
Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral...

s from the early Comnenan period (ca. 1100) when an austere and hieratic manner typical for the Macedonian epoch
Macedonian dynasty
The Macedonian dynasty ruled the Byzantine Empire from 867 to 1056, following the Amorian dynasty. During this period, the Byzantine state reached its greatest expanse since the Muslim conquests, and the Macedonian Renaissance in letters and arts began. The dynasty was named after its founder,...

 and represented by the famous Christ Pantocrator
Christ Pantocrator
In Christian iconography, Christ Pantokrator refers to a specific depiction of Christ. Pantocrator or Pantokrator is a translation of one of many Names of God in Judaism...

 image inside the dome, was metamorphosing into a more intimate and delicate style, of which The Angel before St Joachim — with its pastoral backdrop, harmonious gestures and pensive lyricism — is considered a superb example.

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, "the ensemble represents a visualization of the Christian cosmos
In the general sense, a cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. It originates from the Greek term κόσμος , meaning "order" or "ornament" and is antithetical to the concept of chaos. Today, the word is generally used as a synonym of the word Universe . The word cosmos originates from the same root...

, its effect created by an intricately conceived interplay of pictures and architecture. Space in fact fuses the decoration into one giant image, in which the ruler, hailed by the prophets surrounding him, presides in his sphere above the host of saints that people the lower part of the room".

After the church was sacked by the Crusaders in 1205, Otho de la Roche, Duke of Athens, gave it to the Cistercian Abbey of Bellevaux. The French monks had the exonarthex
The narthex of a church is the entrance or lobby area, located at the end of the nave, at the far end from the church's main altar. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper...

 reconstructed, built a wall around the monastery and effected numerous other changes until the Turks expelled them and restored the monastery to the Orthodox congregation in 1458. Gradually, the impoverished cloister fell into disrepair. The monastery was disbanded by Ottoman authorities in 1821 but restoration work did not commence until 1888. The patrimony was declared a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

in 1990. Heavily damaged by the 1999 earthquake, Daphni Monastery is currently closed to the public due to restoration works.

External links

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