St. Demetrius the Bombardier
Dedicated to St. Demetrius the Bombardier, this small church lies on the Dionysiou Areopagiti pedestrian area at the foot of Philopappos Hill. Though it is generally believed to have been built during the Turkish occupation, others date it to the 9th century.
The church derives its name from a truly tantalising tale. Tradition has it that on 25 October, 1658, an Ottoman official in Athens was angry at the faithful who had gathered at the church to celebrate Saint Demetrius’ Day. The Turk decided to destroy the church and all of its occupants by bombarding it with cannon fire from the Acropolis. But moments before a cannon could be fired, a violent thunderstorm broke out, destroying the entire cannon battery, and saving the small church.
The church is a single-aisle, domed basilica with a round roof, covered by paving stones. Many ancient architectural aspects have been incorporated into the church, such as the small column supporting the altar, and two small columns at the entrance yard. When the church was renovated in 1955 by architect Dimitrios Pikionis, the work uncovered some faded frescoes from the post-Byzantine era.
Today, the church is accessible via a paved path designed by Pikionis, and crosses a landscape covered with Mediterranean flora.