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Abbeys - Monasteries
The Metropolitan Church of St Athanasios in Giannena
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The Metropolitan Church of St Athanasios is located at the town centre in Giannena, opposite the Archaeological museum and western from the castle in Litharitsi area. The church is built on the spot where another church older from the Byzantine years stood (manuscripts of 1619 and 1664 indicate it). The church suffered great damage during the Turkish Occupation while on August 25th, 1820 it was completely destroyed when Hursit bombarded Giannena. 11 years later (1831) the Bishop Ioakeim built a new church (at the spot of the burnt-down one) that keeps its form until now.


The church was constructed by three craftsmen; Nikolaos Iolis Pantazis and the brothers Dimitrios and Georgios Giosis. The basic construction material is the white shaped stone. It is a Byzantine-order construction that follows the architectural features of a big, three-aisled Basilica with double galleries, covered with blind vaults and roofed with black stone. In the interior, numerous, elaborated frescoes cover all sides of the Catholicon, the three vaults at the dome and the walls’ lower sections. The Catholicon’s frescoes date to 1835 and have been created by local painters. Over the following decades there was carried a new hagiography project using the covering technique, something that was characterized as ‘unsuccessful’ by the specialties.

One of the most noteworthy features of this church is the wood-carved screen, a fine sample of the Epirus wood-carved art of the 19th century. It has been created by Anastasios Skalistis and his sons Giannis, Konstantinos and Dimitrios and shows plants’ and animals’ representations as well as representations from the New Testament.

The Propylon is impressive and in perfect harmony with the main church while the Bell Tower was constructed in 1905 with white shaped stone under the plans of the architecture Periklis Melirrypos.

St George Chapel

On the feast day of St Antonios (January 17th, 1838), St Athanasios faced the Turkish gallows on his 30th year of life. He died in the square ‘Kourmanio’, opposite the castle’s great gate that today brings His name. His body was left to hang for three days and every night a divine light surrounded it. After three days and on the stable-workers association’s request the body was buried. The Holy Relic was transported at the Metropolitan Church of St Athanasios where priests and believers rushed to honor His memory. At the beginning, the Saint’s Body had been put at the church’s entrance. Later a chapel was created at the north part of the courtyard in order to house the tomb of the new martyr St George who later became the town’s Patron Saint.

The Holy Relics have been kept in the newly-constructed church since 1975.

Useful Numbers

Church of St Athanasios: +3(0)2651027632