The ornate Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens (Great Mitropolis Cathedral) is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin and was 20 years in building, finally being consecrated in 1862; it is the official seat of the Archbishop of Athens, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church. The skills of four architects and marble from scores of demolished Byzantine churches were utilized in building the cathedral, which was commissioned by King Otto of Greece and constructed in ornate neo-Ottoman style with twin spires; although this is the most important church in Greece, where kings were crowned and royal dynasties married and buried, it has been under scaffolding for many years. Its three-aisled interior is in Byzantine style, covered with frescoes and priceless icons, and packed with tombs and relics of Orthodox saints.
In the piazza facing Great Mitropolis stands a statue of Archbishop Damaskinos, the World War II hero who saved thousands of lives by fighting against the deportation of Greek Jews by the country’s Nazi occupiers.
Located in Metropolitan Square (Plateia Mitropoleos), the cathedral is open daily from 7am to 7pm. Mass is held at 6.30am on Sunday. Metro Lines 1 and 3 can be taken to Monastiraki.