That winter afternoon in January 2017 was no reflection of the probably heated day in September 1843, when King George I had faced a military uprising and had conceded the nation’s first constitution. We looked around to see the fountain in the Syntagma or Constitution Square. People were flitting in and out of the metro station that lay beside the marble steps at the far end of the square. The flight of stairs climbed to a street and beyond that was the Greek Parliament House.
‘Follow Ermou street opposite the Syntagma Square,’ had said my wide-eyed Greek colleague, ‘you will reach Monastiraki.’
It was late in the afternoon, so we headed straight for the recommended street, towards the flea market and the eateries. Walking through the signs of lifestyle brands we passed by a street vendor selling chestnuts. The scent of Greek coffee emanated from a push cart not far from another seller offering pastries and bread.
Amidst the curtain of people and outstretched leaves of potted olive bushes lining the street, I noticed a dome ahead on the street. It was a medieval church; a home to calmness amidst the chaos of the bazaar. Later, I found out that the Church of Panaghia Kapnikaria that was built around 11th century over the ruins of an ancient temple, dedicated either to Demeter or Athena.
The Byzantine-styled church was to be pulled down during the construction of the Ermou street in 1834, but it was saved thanks to the rallying by King Ludwig of Bavaria. He was the father of Modern Greece’s first king after the nation gained independence from the Ottoman rule in 1832.