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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Building of the Old Criminal Court

The building of the old Criminal Court in the Psyrri area in Athens is a rare specimen of public nineteenth-century architecture. It was erected around 1837, according to the plans of Christian Hansen, on the ruins of the post-Byzantine church of Hagia Eleousa, in order to house properly the Criminal Court in the new capital of the Greek state. The building, which has been declared conservable in 1974, is a two-storied, stone-build edifice, roofed with Byzantine tiles that lay on well-preserved and interesting in structure timber trusses. It consists of a central, higher part and two lateral, recessing ones. Its austere facades reflect the spirit of the early Neoclassicism and maintain its original decoration. The east part of the monument preserves the tripartite form of the bema of Hagia Eleousa, while the areas of the Prothesis and Diakonikon are in exceptionally good condition (hidden as they were for over 150 years behind shallow Neoclassical niches) and display pointed arches, sealed passages leading to the central part of the bema and traces of wall-paintings. Furthermore, on its west part a thick post-Byzantine wall, formed by pillars and pointed arches, is incorporated in the masonry of the Neoclassical ground floor. Thus, both monuments, the post-Byzantine and the Neoclassical, are projected, been wisely incorporated into a harmonic ensemble.