No. 252 (2019)

Two Byzantine churches in Constantinople
A photographic, historical and bibliographical context

No. 252 (2019)

by Maria Vaiou


The church of St. John the Baptist in Troullo[1]

The Ahmed Paşa Mescidi or Hırami Ahmed Paşa Masjid

The east end in its present state

The north flank of the church

General view of the interior

General view

The dome and pendentives

North wall

The narthex viewed from the south

The church stands in the Çarşamba neighbourhood in the Fātiḥ district[2]. The Byzantine historian Phrantzes (d. 1478) attributes mistakenly the name of Trullo to a palace named Trullus (domed hall) where the Quinisextum council of 692[3] was held and which stood in the district north of the Fethiye mosque. Mamboury points out that ‘in trullo’ simply means ‘under a dome’ and says that that meeting was held in a domed room in one of the great palaces south of the hippodrome. Phrantzes records that after the conquest, the nuns residing in the covent of Pammakaristos were ordered to move to the convent of St. John in Trullo in 1456. This indicates that the convent of St. John had remained in Orthodox hands after the conquest. The nuns left the church in 1586. The date of the construction of the church took place probably in the twelfth century. It belongs to the four-column type with a narthex and three semicircular apses. It was converted into a mosque by Haramî Ahmed Paşa (d. 1007/1598‒9)[4], the ağa of the janissaries. In 1960 it was consolidated and restored. Still in use today.

  1. G. Paspates, Byzantinai Meletai Topographikai kai Historikai (Konstantinoupolis, 1877), 303‒4; R. Janin, Les églises et les monastères de Constantinople byzantine, 2nd ed. (Paris, 1969) [Janin2], 441–2; T. Mathews, The Byzantine churches of Istanbul. A photographic survey (Penn State, 1976), 159–67; H. Crane, The garden of the mosques: Hafiz Hüseyin al-Ayvansarayi’s guide to the Muslim monuments of Ottoman Istanbul (Leiden, 2000), 257, n.2039; E. Mamboury,  Istanbul Touristique  (Istanbul, 1951), 228‒9; idem, Constantinople, Guide Touristique (Istanbul, 1925), 228‒9; J. Freely and A. S. Çakmak, Byzantine Monuments of İstanbul (Cambridge, 2004), 227‒31; S. Eyice, Istanbul Petit guide à travers les monuments byzantins et turcs (Istanbul, 1955), 63‒4; C. E. Arseven, Eski Istanbul, Abidat ve Mebanîsi. Şehrin Tesisinden Osmanlı Fethine Kadar (Old Istanbul. Monuments and Foundations. From the Foundation of the City to the Ottoman Conquest)  (Istanbul, 1328/1912),Van Millingen, 201-6; 148; W. Müller-Wiener, Bildlexikon zur Topographie Istanbuls (Tübingen, 1977), 144‒6; Öz, Tahsin, Istanbul Camileri (Ankara, 1987), 20; M. Savage, A private mausoleum in Byzantine Constantinople. A study of the architecture of the Hirami Ahmet Pasa Camii in Istanbul (Ph. D Universität Wien, 2009); A. Dilsiz, ‘The Byzantine heritage of Istanbul: resource or burden? A study on the surviving ecclesiastical architecture of the historical peninsula within the framework of perception, preservation and research in the Turkish Republican period’, MA (Koç Univ., 2006), 111‒3.


  1. St. Mary Pammakaristos (‘Mary the All-Blessed’) (13th c.) Fethıye Camii

The parecclesion.

The parecclesion.

The parecclesion. General view from the east

The parecclesion. The vaulting of the cupola

The parecclesion

The parecclesion. The vaulting of the apse

The main church

The parecclesion

The parecclesion

General view from the south west

Situated at the Çarsamba quarter, at the edge of the fifth hill. Mentioned by the Russian pilgrims Alexander the Clerk (end of 14th century) and the Russian Anonymous[5] to have been located between the shrine of St. Theodosia and the monastery of St. John the Baptist in Petra in the northwest section of the city. Monastic foundation of the twelfth century. It consists of a main church, a parekklesion, and an ambulatory. The main church was built by brother of the emperor Alexius I  (1081–1118), Adrian (John) (d. ca. 1118 and 1136) and his wife in the late eleventh/early twelfth century. It was declined during the Latin occupation. The monastery was restored in the Palaiologan period by Michael Tarchaniotes Glabas (d.1305)[6], protostrator[7] of the emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus (1282–1328), and his wife in the late 13th century. An epigram of Manuel Philes commemorates Glabas’ archievement. A chapel, parecclesion, founded by Tarchaniotes and consecrated to Jesus Christ, was built to the SE of the church. Its decoration and completion took place by his widow Maria/Martha Glabaina[8] in memory of Tarchaniotes shortly after 1310. It housed the tombs of other members of the Glabas and Tarchaneiotes families. Written sources mention that there were portraits of Tarchaniotes and his wife in the funerary chapel. Its architecture and mural decoration are of great interest and the two domes make it one of the most important examples of ecclesiastical architecture in the 13th century. Restored by the megas papias[9] Nikolaos Comnenus Ducas Glabas[10] and the emperor Andronicus III (1328–41).  The formation time of the original building is controversial, the achaeologists place it between the seventh and thirteenth centuries. Some historians and archaeologists attribute it to the emperor Michael VII Ducas (1071–8) whilst it has been suggested that it was erected in the eighth century. (Mamboury). A lost inscription of the monastery preserves the full names of Michael Ducas Glabas and his wife Maria Doucaina Comnene Palaiologina Branaina, which was seen and coped by Stephen Gerlach in 1578. The monastery possessed a library. After the conquest it remained in the hands of the Greeks. It is believed that the meeting between the patr. Gennadius Scholarius (1454–64) and the sultan Mehmet the Conqueror (1444–6) took place there. The Byzantine historian Kritovoulos mentions that the sultan Mehmet had appointed Gennadius there and given him the church of Holy Apostles. Then he moved  to the Pammakaristos (1456) due to the existence of a large colony of Greeks settled in the district. It housed the patriarchate from 1456 to 1587 or 1591. The sultan Murād III, converted the church of St. Mary Pammakaristos into a mosque and called it Fethiye (Conquest) Camii, to commemorate the conquest of Georgia and Azerbaijan. The patriarchate was then transferred to the church of the Theotokos Paramythia. The monastery was damaged by fire in 1640 and in 1740. It was repaired in 1845‒6. Between the years 1936‒38 it was restored by the administration of waqfs. The surviving mosaics, were cleaned and restored by the Byzantine Institute of America, headed by P. Underwood. Their execution shows a working pattern typical of after 1261: Christ in the Dome is a conventional Pantocrator image surrounded by twelve Prophets, Moses, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Micah, Joel, Zachariah, Obadiah, Habakkuk, Jonah, Malachi, Ezekiel, and Isaiah; Christ in the apse was part of a Deisis group and is flanked by the Archangels Michael and Gabriel; in the conch of the apse Christ hyperagathos is portrayed seated on a backless throne, holding a closed Book of Gospels in the left hand and raising the right in benediction. To the left and right, the images of the Holy Virgin and St. John the Baptist are shown turning towards Christ in veneration. In the narthex a wall painting of the Three Magi offering their gifts has been preserved. Though severely damaged, the mosaics reflect the high quality, remarkable style and technique, classicizing trends, and the culture of the Palaeologan revival. The building, as survives today, consists of the main church of 12th century a south four column chapel-which is now a museum, and a north, ambulatory in plan-which is in use as a mosque. The parecclesion belongs to the museum of St. Sophia. Restorations of the building took place in 1936-8, 1950, 1958 and 1960.

  1. Mamboury, Istanbul Touristique (Istanbul, 1951), 265‒7; idem, Constantinople, 265‒7; A. van Millingen, Byzantine churches in Constantinople. Their history and architecture (London, 1912),138– 63; Mathews, 346‒65; E. A. Grosvenor, Constantinople (Boston, 1899), ii, 435‒9; Janin2, 208‒13; Paspates, 298‒302; H.-G. Beck, Kirche und Theologische Literatur im Byzantinischen Reich (München, 1959), 215; V. Kidonopoulos, Bauten in Konstantinopel 1204‒1328 (Wiesbaden, 1994), 80‒6; on the xenon, see Kidon., 225‒6; Eyice, Istanbul, 64‒5; Crane, The garden of the mosques, 175, n.1348; A. M. Schneider, Byzanz (Berlin, 1936), 66; idem, ‘Arbeiten an der Pammakaristos Kirche’, AA (1939), 188‒96. A. Siderides, ‘Peri tes ton en Konstantinoupolei mones tes Pammakaristou kai ton ktitoron autes’, HS 29 (1907), 265‒73; idem, ‘Peri tes en Konstantinoupolei Mones tes Pammakaristou’, H S-Parartema 20-22 (1982), 19‒32; P. Underwood, ‘Notes on the work of the Byzantine Institute in Istanbul: 1954’, DOP 9‒10 (1955‒6), 298‒9; DOP 14 (1960), 215‒9; Majeska,  345‒6; Müller-Wiener, 132‒5; H. Belting, C. Mango and D. Mouriki, The mosaics and frescoes of St. Mary Pammakaristos (Fethiye Camii) at İstanbul DOS 15 (Washington D.C., 1978); idem, ‘Zur Skulptur aus der zeit um 1300 in Konstantinopel’, MJBK 23 (1972), 3, 63–100; Freely-Çakmak, 264‒69; C. Mango, ‘The Byzantine inscriptions’, AJA 55 (1951), 60‒1; and E. Hawkins, ‘Report on field work in Istanbul and Cyprus, 1962‒63’, DOP 18 (1964), 319–33; S. Runciman, The great church in captivity (London, 1968, New York, 1985), 184, 228, 190, 189, 450; P. Schreiner, ‘Eine unbekannte Beschreibung der Pammakaristos-kirche (Fethiye camii) und weitere Texte zur Topographie Konstantinopels’, DOP 25 (1971), 217‒48; Arseven, İstanbul, 147. Manuel Philes, Carmina, ed. E. Miller, (Paris, 1857), vol. 2, 243.63‒65; Fâtih Câmileri Ve Diğer Tarihi Eserler, Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı Fatih Şubesi (İstanbul 1991),  97‒8; Öz, Tahsin,  Istanbul Camileri (Ankara, 1987), 60; A. M. Talbot, ‘Epigrams in context. Metrical inscriptions on art and architecture of the Palaiologan era’, DOP 53 (1999), 75–90, 77–9; Reg. 1208 a 1309, N.1579, 1583; Reg. 1377 a 1410, 3037, 3079; I. Beldiceanu-Steinherr, Th. Ganchou, ‘Tarḫāniyāt/Menemen, de Byzance à l’ Empire ottoman’, Turcica 38 (2006), 47–122, 68–74; A. Ogan, ‘Aya Maria Pammakaristos-Fethiye camii’, Bell 13 (1949), 271–308; N. Asutay-Effenberger, ‘Zum Datum der Umwandlung der Pammakaristoskirche in die Fethiye Camii’, B lxxvii (2007), 32–41; A.H. Megaw, ‘Notes on recent work of the Byz. Inst. İn Istanbul’, DOP 17 (1963), 367-71; H. Hallensleben, ‘Untersuchungen zur Baugeschichte der ehemaligen Pammakaristoskirche, der heutigen Fethiye camii in Istanbul’, in IM 13/4 (1963/4), 128–93; see U. Weibbrod, Hier liegt der Knecht Gottes… Gräber in byzantinischen Kirchen und ihr Dekor (11. bis 15. Jahrhundert). Unter besonderer Berücksichtigung dre Höhlenkirchen Kappadokiens (Harassowitz, 2003), 181–-95; A. Effenberger, ‘Zu den Gräbern in der Pammakaristos kirche’, B lxxvii (2007), 170–96; idem, ‘Zur Restaurierungstätigkeit des Michael Dukas Glabas Tarchaneiotes im Pammakaristoskloster und zur Erbauungszeit des Parekklesions’, Zograf 31 (2006/2007), 79–94; M. Mullett (ed.), Founders and refounders of Byzantine monasteries (Belfast, 2007), index, 570; R. H. W. Stichel, »Vergessene Kaiserportraits«spätbyzantinischer Kaiser. Zwei frühpalaiologische kaiserliche Familienbildnisse im Peribleptos –und Pammakaristoskloster zu Konstantinopel’ MSBK 1 (1998), 75–103; on the Theotokos Paramythia, see M. Gedeon, Ekklesiai ton Orthodoxon en Konstantinoupolei  (Constantinople, 1888), 70; J. Bardill, Brickstamps, 2 vols  (Oxford, 2004), i, index, 417; D. Mazlum, Fethiye Camii’nin 18. Yüzyıl Onarımları, in Metin Ahunbay’a armağan (Istanbul, 2004), 167–83; L. James, I. Gavril, ‘A homily with a description of the church of the holy Apostles in Constantinople’, B 83 (2013), 149‒60; V. Marinis, ‘The monastery of Theotokos Pammakaristos (Fethiye Camii) in Istanbul’, in G. Sözen (ed.), Mosaics of Anatolia (Istanbul, 2011), 321‒32; Sp. P. Lampros, ‘Symmikta: He epigrafe tou ktistou yes en Kpolei mones Pammakaristou’, NE II/1‒2 (1905), 236; idem, ‘He ktisis kai o ktitor tes en Kpolei mones tes Pammakaristou’, NE 1/2‒3 (1904), 280‒94; T. Sözer, Fethiye Camii (Pammakaristos Manastırı) Güney Kilisesi (Parekklesion) Resim Sanatı, Lisans Tezi, İÜ (San.Tar. Böl. 1981); D. Mazlum, ‘Fethiye Camii’nin 18. yy. Onarımları’, Sanat Tarihi Defterleri 8, Metin Ahunbay’a Armağan, Bizans Mimarisi Üzerine Yazılar (2004), 167‒83; I. Drpic, Epigram, art, and devotion in later Byzantium (Cambridge, 2016), index, 478; M. Esmer, Istanbul’daki Orta Bizans Dönemi Kiliseleri ve Çevlelerinin Korunması için Öneriler Dokrora Tezi, İTÜ, Fen Bilimleri Enstitüsü’nün (Mayis 2012), 142‒214; Dilsiz, ‘The Byzantine heritage’, 121-4.

[1] F. Du Cange, Seu Descriptio urbis sub Imperatoribus Christianis oum fiburis templi S. Sophiae et aliis accedunt additamenta ad eamdem Constantinopolim Christianam Itemque de hebdomo Constantinopolitano Disquisito Topographica ubri quatuor (Venedig, 1680, 1729), 122; ODB, 3,  ‘Trullo, council in’, 2126‒7; R. Janin, Constantinople byzantine. Développement urbain et répertoire topographique (Paris, 1964), 437.

[2]; K. Dark, F. Özgümüş, Istanbul Rescue Archaeological Survey 2001:the Districts of Fatih,Zeyrek and Karagümrük (London, 2001); Istanbul Rescue Archaeological Survey 2002: The Districts of Sofular, Iskender Paşa, Edirnekapı,Sarigüzel, Fatih (London,2002).

[3] See W. Hartmann and K. Pennington, The history of Byzantine and eastern Canon law to 1500 (Washington DC, 2012), 77f.

[4] On him, see Crane, The garden of the mosques, 257.

[5] C. Mango, ‘The date of the Anonymous Russian description of Constantinople’, BZ 45 (1952), 380–5.

[6] I. Leontiades, Die Tarchaneiotai: eine prosopographisch-sigillographische Studie (Athens, 1988).

[7] R. Guilland, ‘Le protostrator’, REB 7 (1950), 156‒79.

[8] I. G. Leontiades, Die Tarchaneiotai, Eine prosopo- graphisch-sigillographische Studie (Thessaloniki, 1998), no.38.

[9] Pseudo-Kodinos and the Constantinopolitan court: offices and ceremonies, tr./ed., R. Macrides, J. Munitiz, D. Angelov (eds.) (Farnham, 2013), index, 524.

[10] See V. Kidonopoulos, Bauten in Konstantinopel 1204‒1328 (Wiesbaden, 1994), 81 n. 972; Leontiades, Die Tarchaneiotai, no. 45.