SIX miles west of Athens, where once stood a temple to laurel-crowned Apollo, is the domed Monastery of Daphni, whose fine mosaics were neglected for 700 years and are now recognized as a peak of 12th century Byzantine art. The church, named for the Virgin of the Laurels (in Greek, Daphni), stands behind a screen of cypresses, and its walls conceal a violent history. Seized and partially rebuilt in 1204 by Prankish barons, it was in turn captured and burned by Moslem Turks in 1460. The building was used in the 19th century as a powder magazine, fort, police station and...

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