Church of Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris near Filopappou hill; Shutterstock ID 1666148053; your: Barbara Di Castro; gl: 65050; netsuite: digitl; full: POI

Shutterstock / CoinUp

Church of Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris

Top choice in Athens

At the foot of Filopappou Hill, this 16th-century church may not be the oldest in Athens, but it is certainly one of the loveliest, with a heavy timber roof, marble floors and the permanent scent of incense.

A great 1732 fresco of St Dimitrios, astride his horse in a pose copied from ancient images of Alexander the Great, adorns the interior.

The churchyard, with its wooden gate and bells, conjures Japan – a touch by modernist architect Dimitris Pikionis.

Pikionis also applied his precise style to the restoration of the back exterior wall, a delightful piece of stonework.

In 1648, the church was the site of a reported miracle. The Turks, ensconced on the Acropolis, prepared to fire a cannon on worshippers gathered in the church, but the gunner was killed by lightning, saving the congregation. Hence its name, Loumbardiaris ('of the cannon').

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Athens attractions

1. Socrates' Prison

0.06 MILES

On the slopes of Filopappou Hill, follow the path to this warren of rooms carved into bedrock. It's said to have been the place Socrates was imprisoned in…

2. Hill of the Pnyx

0.12 MILES

North of Filopappou Hill, this hill was the official meeting place of the Democratic Assembly in the 5th century BC – really, the first site of democracy…

3. Shrine of the Muses

0.18 MILES

Just below the crest of Filopappou Hill, the ruined shrine to the goddesses of creative inspiration is carved into the bedrock.

4. Filopappou Hill

0.19 MILES

Also called the Hill of the Muses, Filopappou Hill – along with the hills of the Pnyx and the Nymphs – is a somewhat wild, pine-shaded spot that's good…

5. Monument of Filopappos

0.19 MILES

This 12m-high marble monument at the top of Filopappou Hill was built between AD 114 and 116 in honour of Julius Antiochus Filopappos, a prominent Roman…

6. Acropolis Main Entrance

0.21 MILES

The main Acropolis entrance is used by tour groups so can be very busy. Come here for the disabled accessible lift.

7. Hill of the Nymphs

0.22 MILES

Northwest of Hill of the Pnyx, this hill is home to the old Athens observatory, built in 1842.

8. Areopagus Hill

0.22 MILES

This rocky outcrop below the Acropolis has great views over the Ancient Agora. According to mythology, it was here that Ares was tried by the council of…