No. 259 (2020)

Byzantines churches or monasteries in Constantinople turned into mosques. A few examples.

No. 259 (2020)

By Maria Vaiou

Church of St. Theodore ta Karbounaria[1]  St. Theodore of Tyrone

The Molla Gürani [2]Mosque or Vefa Kilise Mosque or Kilise Camii; Molla or Malta Şemsettin Camii

Vefa Kilise In the background

The west façade from the northwest

The door leading from the outer to the inner narthex

General view from the southwest

The ruins of this church stand in Vefa. Lying between and to the west of St. Sophia and St. Irene, the church had survived until the 19th century. Pierre Gilles who visited Constantinople in the sixteenth century mentioned in 1561 a church of Theodosius with a description that fits exactly with the Vefa Kilise. Paspatis and Janin mention another church of St. Theodore Sphorakiou, originally built in the 5th century. Topographical data in sources are not conclusive. The origin of the church of St. Theodore ta Karbounaria is attributed in the time of the reign of the emperor Leo I (457–74). The Patria attributes it to the patrician Hilarion, who is identified with the magister officiorum Hilarianus, whose office was held in the last years of Leo. The church bears this epithet except for the Patria in a document of 1090, a further source of the twelfth century, and in Life of a saint. The church lay on the road between the Artopoieia[3] and Taurus. The  great fire of 1197 destroyed a domed church dedicated to Christ, which Mango thinks that it may be identified with the Vefa Kilise Camii. The church was certainly existed in the eleventh or early twelfth centuries, and an outer narthex was added in the Palaeologan period. As a monastic establishment, it had several tombs and two cisterns. The mosaics in the south dome of the exonarthex shows the Mother of God holding the infant Christ surrounded by eight figures from the Old Testament. The middle dome has retained traces from the representation of Christ Pantocrator ‒less has survived in the north dome. Mamboury dates the building of the exonarthex and his mosaic decoration to the beginning of thee fourteenth century. Damaged by fire in the early 19th century.The parecclesion was aborted in 1848 and the mosaics of the church were destroyed. Archaeological work carried out in 1937 brought to light mosaics in the outer narthex. Under the sultan Mehmed II (1444–46 and 1451–81), the şeyhülislâm Molla Gürani Şemseddin Ahmed Efendi (d. 1488), transformed the church into a mosque. A mahalle is still in use today.

Janin2, 148; idem, ‘Les églises byzantines des saints militaires (Constantinople et banlieue)’ EO 34 (1935), 56‒64, 61; idem, ‘La topographic de Constantinople byzantine’, EO 38 (1939), 118‒50, 380-416, 138‒9; Ch. Walter, The warrior saints in Byzantine art and tradition (Aldershot, 2003), 44‒66; idem, ‘Theodore, archetype of the warrior Saint’, REB 57 (1999), 163‒210, 185‒9; A. Van Millingen, Byzantine churches in Constantinople. Their history and architecture (London, 1912). 243‒52; idem, Constantinople (London, 1906), 190; A. Berger, Untersuchungen zu den Patria Konstantinupoleos (Bonn, 1988), 321‒2; Crane, The garden of the mosques, 208; E. A. Grosvenor, Constantinople (Boston, 1899), ii, 432‒4; A. G. Paspates, Byzantinai Meletai Topographikai kai Historikai (Konstantinoupolis, 1877).314‒6; Cod., 45; Patria, iii, 45; A. Mordtmann, Equisse topographique de Constantinople (Lille, 1892).
124; S. Eyice, Istanbul, Istanbul Petit guide à travers les monuments byzantins et turcs (Istanbul, 1955), 53‒4; E. Mamboury, Istanbul Istanbul Touristique (Istanbul, 1951), 262‒3; idem, Constantinople. Guide Touristique (Istanbul, 1925). 262‒3; A. M. Schneider, Byzanz  (Berlin, 1936), 77‒8; H. Çetinkaya, ‘An epitaph of a Gepid king at Vefa kilise camii in Istanbul’,  REB 67(2009); L. Theis, Flankenräume im mittelbyzantinischen Kirchenbau (Wiesbaden, 2005), 83‒98; Ebersolt–Thiers, Les eglises, 149‒67; T. Mathews, The Byzantine churches of Istanbul. A photographic survey (Penn State, 1976). 386‒7; N. Brunov, ‘Uber zwei byzantinische Baudenkmdler von Konstantinopel aus dem XI. Jahrhundert’, BNJ  9 (1932‒34), 139‒44; A. Ogan, ‘Istanbul kiliseleri ve mozaikleri’, Güzel Sanatlar 5 (1944), 103‒115; H. Hallensleben, ‘Zu Annexbauten der Kilise camii in Istanbul’, IM 15 (1965), 208‒17; C. Mango, ‘The work of M.I. Nomidis in the Vefa Kilise Camii, Istanbul (1937‒38)’, in idem,  Studies on Constantinople (London 1993), 421‒49, no. XXII; idem, ‘Constantinopolitana’, Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archdologischen Instituts 80 (1965), 305-36, repr. in idem, Studies on Constantinople (London, 1993), chap. 2; W. Grape, ‘Zum Stil der Mosaiken in der Kilise Camii in Istanbul’, Pantheon 32 (1974), 3–13; S. Kırımtayıf, Converted Byzantine churches in İstanbul. Their transformation into mosques and masjids (İstanbul, 2001). 28‒31; Freely-Çakmak, 207‒11; W. Müller-Wiener, Bildlexikon zur Topographie Istanbuls (Tübingen, 1977).169‒71; ODB, 2048‒9; Öz Tahsin, İstanbul Camileri, I-II (Ankara 1987),  42, 89, 106; K. Ciggaar, ‘Une description de Constantinople traduite par un pèlerin anglais’, REB 34 (1976), 211‒67, 20, index; V. Kidonopoulos, Bauten in Konstantinopel 1204‒1328 (Wiesbaden, 1994),145‒6; F. Th. Mühlmann, ‘Die angebliche Kirche der Theotokos in Constantinopel’, MDECC I (Bern, 1888), 8–17; J. Bardill, Brickstamps of Constantinople, 2 vols (Oxford, 2004), i, index, 420; H. Çetinkaya, ‘Recent Finds at Vefa Kilise Camii of Istanbul,’, in F. K. Haarer et al, Proceedings of the 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies, London, 21–26 August, 2006, t. III, Abstracts of Communications (London 2006), 77; idem, ‘An epitaph of a gepid King at Vefa Kilise Camii in Istambul’, RÉB 67 (2009), 225– 9; S. Tümer, İstanbul’da Vefa Kilise veya Molla Gürani Camii, Tarihçesi, Mimari Durumu, Mozaikleri (Yayınlanmamış Lisans Tezi). İstanbul Üniversitesi  (İstanbul, 1957); A. Sabuncu, ‘Vefa Kilise Camisi Naosu Güney Dış Yüzünün Kademeli Kemeri Yukarısındaki Üçgen Alınlığa Sabitlenmiş Üç Keramik Kabın Değerlendirilmesi’, Colloquium Anatolicum IX  (İstanbul, 2010); M. Esmer, İstanbul’daki Orta Bizans Dönemi Kiliseleri Ve Çevrelerinin Korunması İçin Öneriler (PhD İstanbul Technical University, Institute of Science and Technology, 2012), 31‒92; 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)’, 135‒7; P. Magdalino, ‘Constantinopolitana. 2. The fire of 1197 and the church of the Theotokos Kyriotissa’, in idem, Studies on the history and topography of Byzantine Constantinople (Aldershot, 2007),  228, n.44.

The Sokullu Mehmed Paşa[4] or Mehmed Paşa or Şehid Mehmed Paşa camii=St. Anastasia en tois Domninou Embolois[5] = ta Maurianou[6]=The Resurrection of Christ our God and martyr Anastasia or monastery of Anastasis.

The building is situated at the Portico of Domninus, identified by the Russian scholar Majeska with the makros embolos tou Mavrianou,[7] in the south-western side of the Hippodrome. Janin locates it ‘north of Bazaar’ or ‘in the vicinity of Bazaar’. Mentioned in the Notitia to have been in the Region VII. Constructed in the last quarter of the fourth century. Founded by the empress Helena (d. 330) or the emperor Anastasius I Dikorus (491–518) or Gregory the Theologian (d. 390)[8], the patr. of Constantinople (379‒81). The latter reports in several poems the construction of a chapel of St. Anastasia. The expansion to a large church was done by Marcian (BHG 1032ff), the econonus of St. Sophia under the emperor Leo I (457–74); patr. Nectarius[9] (381‒97) decorated the building with marble. Archbishop of Constantinople John Chrysostom (d. 407) held many sermons there and  influenced the restoration of the Nicene faith. Survived the fire of 461 or 465. The procession for the consecration of St. Sophia in 536/7 set out from St. Anastasia. The church was originally dedicated to the Resurrection, but her name was used by Gregory instead of Anastasis in the form of Anastasia. The fifth century church historians Socrates and Sozomen call it Anastasis. Repaired by the emperor Basil I (867–86), it assumed a double dedication as a church of Resurrection of Christ and Anastasia. Later it was called as church of Resurrection and as such is called by the twelfth historian Cedrenus, the pilgrims English Anonymous and Anthony of Novgorod. The church was adjoined to a monastery in the twelfth century which was dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ. In the late fifth century it possessed the relics of St. Anastasia which were initially in the chapel of Gregory, north of the big church. Later, when the church assumed the Resurrection name, they were transferred to another church of Anastasia the Pharmacolyria. The church was deserted and decayed during the Latin occupation in 1204. After 1204 it was occupied by a chapter of the Latin Canons. The church was used at least 1232 by Latin clergy. Thereafter it was abandoned and decayed. In the ‘Book of Ceremonies’ the church is mentioned as the church of the Blues eis ton Tagistea. The restoration of the church and the building of the monastery complex took place between 1261‒82 by George Acropolites [10](d. 1282)  and his son Constantine Acropolites (d. bef. 1324)[11] Constantine Acropolites buried in it his wife Maria and dedicated a chapel to St. Lazarus. Mentioned in a chrysobull of 1282‒9 or 1294 before 1320. Janin suggests that the restoration was due to the fact that it served as a refuge for the Galesiote monks worried about the Turkish conquest. The emperor Andronicus II (1282 to 1328) united this monastery to that of the Resurrection of the mountain Galesius. The monastery, of which nothing remains today, lasted until the Fall of 1453. It was commissioned by the wife of the grand vizier Sokullu Mehmet Paşa, İsmihan Sultan, but it took his name due to further works he undertook. The mosque was built by the renown architect Mimar Sinan[12] (d. 1588) in 1571 up until 1572.The uncovered remains near the Fuad Paşa[13] (d. 1869) Türbesi around 1875 were partly remnants of the Pretorian prefect and partly elements of the Anastasia church. A church of the martyr Oraiozili was attested close to the church.

Janin2, 20‒2, 22‒5, 298; idem, ‘Les sanctuaires de Byzance sous la domination latine (1204‒1261)’, RÉB 2 (1944/5), 134‒84, 162‒3; Grosvenor, ii, 417–9; Cod., 45 [attr. to Marcian the economus]; R. P.H. Greenfield, tr., The Life of Lazaros of Mt Galesion, An eleventh- century saint. (Washington, DC, 2000), 66–7; H. Delehaye, ‘Constantini Acropolitae, hagiographi byzantini, epistularum manipulus’, AB 51 (1933), 282–84; V Laurent, Fasc. IV, Les Regestes de 1208 a 1309 (Paris, 1971).N. 1474; A. M. Talbot, ‘The restoration of Constantinople under Michael VIII’, DOP 47 (1993), 243‒61, 256; Kidon., 5‒8 [with bibliog.]; Crane, The garden of the mosques, 214‒5; Dölger, Reg., 2085; Ebersolt, 90‒1; Skyl., 137; Notitia, 235; Theoph., 61, 67, 111, 112, 217; R. Snee, ‘Gregory Nazianzen’s Anastasia church: Arianism, the Goths, and hagiography’, DOP 52 (1998), 157‒86; ‘Life of Gregory of Nazianzus’ (BHG 723), X. Lequeux, Gregorii presbyteri vita sancti Gregorii theologi (Turnhout, 2001);  tr., 18, 19, n. 111; Ciggaar, ‘Description’, 31, 32; C. Mango, ‘Le terme antiforos et la Vie de saint Marcien économe de la Grande Église‘, TM 15 (2005), 317–28, 324, 326, n.31; Berger, 442, 444‒7; P. Magdalino, Constantinople médiévale (Paris, 1996), 62 n.62;. J. Darrouzès, Les regestes des actes du patriarcat de Constantinople. I/5: Les regestes de 1310 à 1376. I/6: Les regestes de 1377 à 1410. I/7: Les regestes de 1410 à 1453. (Paris, 1977‒91), I/5, N. 2110, 2281, 2491; P. Gilles, The antiquities of Constantinople (London, 1729) repr. (1986), 154; Paspates, 364–75; Mordtmann, 113, 114, 124, 125; Mamboury, Constantinople, 349–50; G. Majeska, Russian Travelers to Constantinople in the fourteenth and fifteenth ceturies (Washington, 1984), 289; Eyice, Istanbul, 36‒7; Cod., 42; Patria, iii, 42‒3, 103; Grosvenor, 417–9; Van Millingen, Byzantine churches in Constantinople, 87; L. Rydén, ‘A note on some references to the church of St. Anastasia in Constantinople in the 10th c’., B 44 (1974), 198–201; D. Kuban, ‘An Ottoman building complex of the sixteenth century: the Sokollu mosque and its dependencies in Istanbul’,  Ars O 7 (1968), 19–39; Öz, Camileri, 101–2; T. F. Madden, ‘The fires of the fourth Crusade in Constantinople. 1203‒1204: a damage assessment’, BZ 84-5 (1991-2), 72‒93, 80; E. C. Ryder, ‘An epigram for saint Anastasia Pharmakolitria commissioned by the panhypersebaste Irene Palaiologina’, in J. D. Alchermes (ed.), Anathemata eortika: studies in honor of Thomas F. Mathews (Mainz, 2009), 265‒70; S. Kotzabassi, Das hagiographische Dossier der heiligen Theodosia von Konstantinopel . Einleitung, Edition und Kommentar (Berlin, New York, 2009 ); Life of Saint Basil the Younger. Critical edition and annotated translation of the Moscow version, D. F. Sullivan et al. (Washington, DC, 2014),,  index, 797.

To be continued

[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 Constantinopoli- tano Disquisito Topographica ubri quatuor (Venedig, 1680, 1729), 169; R. Janin, Constantinople byzantine. Développement urbain et répertoire topographique (Paris, 1964), 366‒7.

[2] On him, see Ayvansarayî, tr. H. Crane, The garden of the mosques: Hafiz Hüseyin al-Ayvansarayi’s guide to the Muslim monuments of Ottoman Istanbul (Leiden, 2000). 358, n. 2676.

[3] Situated on the Mese between the Forum of Constantine and Theodosius. Janin, CB, 315.

[4] On him, see Ayvansarayî, tr. Crane, 214‒5, n.1681.

[5] Janin, CB, 331‒3, 344‒5, index, 519; Mordtmann, index, 83.

[6] Janin, CB, 386‒7.

[7] Du Cange, 174; Janin, CB, 91.

[8] ODB, 2, 880‒2; See D. Geanakoplos, A short history of the ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople (330-390) ‘First among equals’ (Brookline MA, 1990).

[9] Des Regestes des actes du patriarcat, v. 1, fasc. VII. Les regests de 1410 a 1453, index, 130.

[10] R. Macrides, ‘George Akropolites‘ Rhetoric’, in E. Jeffreys (ed.), Rhetoric in Byzantium. Papers from the Thirty-fifth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Exeter College, University of Oxford, March 2001 (Aldershot, 2003), 201–11.

[11] D. M. Nicol,  ‘Constantine Akropolites : a prosopographical note’, DOP 19 (1965), 249–56

[12] ‘Mimar Sinan: the urban vision’,  ed. A. Petruccioli, Environmental Design: Journal of the Islamic Environmental Design Research Centre 1–2 (1987).

[13] C. Finkel, Osman’s dream: the story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1923. (New York, 2006).