The Honourable Gifts/Τα Τιμια Δωρα

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The gold has a lot of intricate detail. The incense are the little balls that look like olives above the gold.

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The popular telling of the story of the Three kings, also called wise men or magi is that they came from the east bearing their precious gifts for the young Jesus. The gifts were Frankincense, Myrrh and Gold. The Frankincense symbolizes prayer, Myrrh symbolizes suffering and gold symbolizes virtue.

Many don’t know that the gifts still exist and are kept in a vault at the monastery of St Paulos at Mount Athos in Greece. In a rare move the “Timia Dora’ or ‘Honourable Gifts’ as the Orthodox Christians call them, were brought to western Athens to the church of St. Nektarios so that everyone can see them up close. They will be displayed in the church from the 27th until the 31st of this month.

The story of how the ‘Honurable Gifts’ made their way to the Holy Mountain (Mt. Athos) is a perilous one.  It is said that The Virgin Mary gave up many relics to the church in Jerusalem where they remained until the year 400 A.D.  That year the Byzantine Emperor Arcadius relocated the relics to the city of Constantinople to bless and protect the people and to promote the city. The gifts remained there until the city fell to the Franks in 1204 A.D.  There after, for safety reasons, they were taken to the town of Nikaia in Northwestern Asia Minor, the temporary capitol of Byzantium. The gifts would remain there for 60 years. After the crusaders retreated the relics returned to Constantinople until the city fell to the Turks in 1453 A.D.

After the fall of the city, a Christian woman named Mara Brankovic who was the daughter of the King of Serbia and who was married to the Ottoman Sultan Murat II, brought the relics to Mount Athos.  At the port she handed over the relics to the monks as as she was not allowed to enter as only men are allowed and only with written permission.


The Remains/Τα Ερείπια

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Below the church.


After exploring a near by park in Athens I came across the ruins of the church of St. Nikolaos. I haven’t been able to find much information about it. I assume it was built in Byzantine times. It is not very common to come across the ruins of a church in Greece so I found it this to be very intriguing.

Μετά την εξερεύνηση ενός κοντινού πάρκου στην Αθήνα, βρήκα τα ερείπια της εκκλησίας του Αγίου Νικολάου. Δεν κατάφερα να βρω πολλές πληροφορίες γι ‘αυτό. Υποθέτω ότι χτίστηκε στα βυζαντινά χρόνια. Δεν είναι πολύ συνηθισμένο να βρίσκω τα ερείπια μιας εκκλησίας στην Ελλάδα, γι ‘αυτό βρήκα αυτή την ανακάλυψη τοσο ενδιαφέρουσα.

Church by the Sea/Εκκλησια διπλα στη θαλασσα


Ephesians 4:2: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

Εφεσίους 4: 2: “Να είσαι απόλυτα ταπεινός και ευγενής. να είστε υπομονετικοί, να έρθετε ο ένας στον άλλο με αγάπη ».

Greek Is Chic!

I love this shop window! Greek is chic didn't you know?

I love this shop window! Greek is chic didn’t you know?


The very crowded Ermou St.


A vendor selling the warm winter drink called ‘Salepi’ (σαλέπι). It is made from orchids and is mostly consumed in the middle east.


A street vendor selling corn on the cob.


The Byzantine church ‘Agia Kyriaki’ built in the 6th century.

A few street photos of downtown Athens where there so many things to photograph. Athinas street, Ermou and Monastiraki are some well-known and busy streets. On that day Ermou street was so crowded my friends and I gave up and turned around. We went down a quieter street for a stroll. It’s probably a lot more crowded now that Christmas is approaching.  Crowdy streets are a happy site for shop owners and street vendors, but only if people are buying and not just taking strolls like we were haha!

Aghion Apostolon/Άγιον Απόστολον

These are few photographs that I took of the Byzantium Saint Apostles church. The ancient structure is located on the southeast side of the ancient Agora in Athens. It was built in the last quarter of the Byzantium period, and in its early days the church was mostly used for baptisms.  St. Apostles’ church is of great historical significance and is protected by the government. Today, the church operates as a museum and the only time it is used for religious ceremonies is on the 29-30 of June which is the day of the Synaxis (congregation) of the 12 Apostles.

Αυτές είναι μερικές φωτογραφίες που  έβγαλα από τη βυζαντινή εκκλησία των Αγίων Αποστόλων. Το αρχαίο οικοδόμημα βρίσκεται στη νοτιοανατολική πλευρά της Αρχαίας Αγοράς στην Αθήνα. Χτίστηκε κατά το τελευταίο τετάρτου της περιόδου του Βυζαντίου, και στις πρώτες ημέρες της, η εκκλησία χρησιμοποιείται κυρίως για βαπτίσεις.  Την εκκλησία του Αγίου Αποστόλων εχει μεγάλη ιστορική σημασία και προστατεύεται από την κυβέρνησηΣήμερα, η εκκλησία λειτουργεί ως μουσείο, και η μόνη φορά που χρησιμοποιείται για τις θρησκευτικές τελετές είναι στις 29-30 Ιουνίου που γιορτάζουν της Συνάξεως των 12 Αποστόλων


1000 Year Old Byzantine Church

The entry of King Otto of Greece in Athens and...

Image via Wikipedia

Για πολλα χρονια ψωνιζα στα μαγαζια στην Οδο Ερμου στο κεντρο της Αθηνας και περνουςα την μικρη εκκλησια, αλλα δεν ηξερα την ιστορια της. Λογο της περιεργιας μου εμαθα για το μικρο εκκλησακι.   Η εκκλησια ονομαζεται ‘Παναγια Καπνικαρεα’ και ειναι ενα απο της πιο σημαντικες Βυζαντινες εκκλησιες στην Αθηνα.

Το Βυζαντινο εκκλησακι χτιστηκε το 1050 μ.χ (!)  πανω απο τα συντηριμμια ενος αρχαιου ναου αφιερομενο ειτε στη Θεα Αθηνα η στην Θεα Δημητρα. Παραλιγο να γρεμιστει η εκκλησια μετα την επανασταση του 1821, ομως παρενεβει Ο Αρχιεπισκοπος της Αθηνας και ο Ludwig of Bavaria o πατερας του Βασιλια Οττο.  Το μωσαικο στην εισοδο τηn εφτιαξε Ο Elli Voila το 1936, και ειναι πολυ εντυπωσιακο.

For many years, I have walked passed the tiny old church pictured above. It is located in the middle of  the downtown Ermou shopping district  of Athens.   The church is always surrounded by people who like to sit on the ledge.  I have sat there many times and one day I decided to go in to light a candle.  I knew that it was an old church is but I did not know exactly how old.  Recently I decided to take photographs of the church and to do some research on it.  What I discovered surprised me the church named: ‘Panagia Kapnikarea‘ is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and it is one of the most important Byzantine churches in Athens.  The church dates back to 1050 (11th century)! It was built on the ruins of an ancient temple either dedicated to the Goddess Athena or Demeter.   Panagia Kapnikarea was almost destroyed after the Greek war of Independence of 1821, but the Bishop of Athens and Ludwig of Bavaria father of King Otto intervened and the church was saved.  The mosaic at the entrance was made by Elli Voila in 1936, and it is quite beautiful up close. In addition, the Northern side of the church is dedicated to Saint Varvara.

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