Dafni

Daphni.jpg

Dafni is the current headquarters of the Aegis Society. It was once a monastery and is located 1 km north-west of central Athens at the edge of the Chaidari neighborhood. It is situated near the forest of the same name, on the Sacred Way that led to Eleusis. The forest covers about 15 to 20 kmĀ².

The Daphnion was founded about the turn of the 6th century, Christianizing the site of the Sanctuary of Apollo Daphnaios that had been desecrated by the Goths in 395, and reusing the Ionic columns of the ancient temple of Apollo in its portico; only one of which remains, the others were removed to London by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin.

The principal church (catholikon), a fine monument of bearing 11th-century Byzantine art, is a cross-in-square church of the octagonal type surmounted by a broad and high dome. The building houses the best preserved complex of mosaics from the early Comnenan period (ca. 1100).

After the church was sacked by the Crusaders in 1205, Otho de la Roche, Duke of Athens, gave it to the Cistercian Abbey of Bellevaux. The French monks had the exonarthex reconstructed, built a wall around the monastery and effected numerous other changes until the Turks expelled them and restored the monastery to the Orthodox congregation in 1458. Gradually, the impoverished cloister fell into disrepair. The monastery was disbanded by Ottoman authorities in 1821. It was purchased after Greek independence by Lady Renette Villefort in 1865. She had the property restored and is allowing its use as headquarters for the Aegis Society.

Dafni

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