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Petrakis Monastery

Churches in Athens

Agii Assomati Taxiarches
(Saints Assomati Taxiarches)
Petrakis Monastery (Moni Petraki)


The Petrakis Monastery is situated in the densely populated Lycavittos district, behind the Evangelismos Hospital. The main entrance to the monastery complex is on 14, Ioannou Gennadiou street. This leads into a small garden and next to the impressive katholikon (main church), the Church of Saints Assomati Taxiarches, consecrated to the Archangels. Behind the church are the administrative offices of the church of Greece.

No written documents record the church’s foundation but architecturally the buildings can be dated to between the end of the 10th century and the beginning of the 11th. The complex was repaired and renovated numerous times from the 15th century on. The most significant renovation took place in 1673 when the monastery took on the name Petrakis after the monk-physician Parthenios Petrakis from Dimitsana who financed the restoration.

In the 18th century, the monastery became patriarchal. From then on, its abbots were elected from the Petrakis family. The monastery’s main church is one of the oldest and most important in Athens. It is of the complex tetra style cross-in-square type. Only the three semi-circular apses have survived of the original church. The octagonal dome with rounded corners and the slightly concave sides, date from the later Byzantine era (1204-1453).

The outer narthex (front portal) was added at the beginning of the 19th century when the sanctuary was extended to the west. The church is constructed mostly of rubble masonry and the cloisonné style was only adopted on the repaired higher parts. There is a characteristic lack of brick pattern decorations. The roofs lack any strong graduations and this differentiates the church from other monuments of this era in Athens.

As a whole, the main church seems to be based on the traditions of the architectural school of Constantinople. According to an inscription over the southern column, the katholikon (main church) was decorated with mural paintings in 1719, when Damaskinos was abbot of the monastery, by the painter Georgios Markou from Argos. He was the most significant religious painter in Athens and Attica during the 18th century. He created a local school with numerous apprentices and a lot of work. He was influenced by Cretan painters and was also familiar with Italian art though his own style remained conservative.

The Petrakis Monastery in Athens’ modern history

By the mid-19th century, the Petrakis Monastery acquired important property thanks to the abbots’ persistent drive and energy in dealing with the authorities. Many surviving legal documents, both Greek and Ottoman, relate to the acquisition of land and show that it was advantageous for the monastery to take over other monasteries nearby and use them as a metochia (parish).

The monastery gradually donated the majority of its property to the public, thus becoming one of the greatest benefactors of Athens. Former monastic property was donated to found hospitals (Evangelismos, Sotiria, Syngrou), religious institutions (Rizareios School), educational and cultural institutions (Athens Academy, Technical University, Gennadeios Library).

The monastic community made a significant social contribution, especially during Ottoman rule, by providing people with medical care and promoting culture. Abbot Dionissyos Petrakis led a delegation from Athens to Constantinople and contributed to the removal of the tyrannical Governor of Athens, Hadji Ali Haseki.

The monastery financially supported the Ioannis Dekas School, founded a school of science for young Athenians and was a member of the Philomousos Society. During the Greek War of Independence of 1821, the Ottomans plundered the monastery. After the foundation of the Greek State, the monastery was used for a while as the national armory and military hospital. During the Balkan Wars it was used again by the army while after 1922, it housed Greek refugees from Turkey. During the German occupation, the abbot provided Sunday meals to needy children.

Location map Monis street – Kolonaki
Nearest metro station Evangelismos
For typical words, please consult our Greek glossary
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