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by Archaeology Newsroom

Transformation of churches into court rooms

In the small, ruined town of Athens of 1834 a serious problem was created concerning the proper housing of public services and of civil servants. Therefore, the ministry in charge decided to convert ruined churches into court rooms in order to house various Judicial services, such as the Criminal Court and the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court. Three such churches, located in the same district, were selected: Hagia Eleousa, close to Kapsali’s hotel, Hagios Athanasios, next to the Psyris area and the so-called church of Chrysokopidis. According to a rough estimate by E. Shaubert the expenses for the adapting for functional reasons of all three churches would have amounted to 4,299.76 drachmas. Hagia Eleousa has been preserved in its altered shape, incorporated into the building of the old Criminal Court, while for the other two churches there is no surviving evidence. The remarkable monograph in Greek, entitled “The Old Criminal Court”, by D. Constantinidis, L Politis and E. Biris offers a detailed description of the entire building and many historical data. The institution of Criminal Courts dates back to 1835, the transformation of Hagia Eleousa before the summer of 1837. The final plans undoubtedly belong to Christian Hansen.It is interesting to note that certain architectural features characteristic of Hansen’s work, closely resembling or even copying ancient Greek prototypes, appear for the first time in the remodelling of this church. The present condition of the building presents us with the sad picture of total abandonment.