The Monastery of Daphni is built on the site of the ancient sanctuary of Apollo Daphnaios which was destroyed during the invasion of the Goths in 395 A.D. Of the old temple only one Ionic column still remains in the colonnade of the narthex, while the rest were removed by Lord Elgin in the 19th century. The monastery, dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin, was founded in the 6th century A.D. and in spite of its great wealth and fame, it was abandoned. It was reconstructed at the end of the 11th century by an unknown benefactor.
The area was awarded to Othon de la Roche, the Lord of Athens, in 1204 and in 1207 the monastery was handed over to conceded by the Cisterian monks from Belleveaux, who remodelled the building. When Athens was captured by the Turks in 1458, it was returned to the Orthodox Church and was reoccupied by Orthodox monks who also made alterations to the buildings. During the Greek Revolution it was used as a garrison. In 1838-39 Bavarian troops settled on the site and in 1883-85 it was used as a lunatic asylum. It suffered severe damage by earthquakes in 1889 and 1897.