Friday, March 23, 2012

Hagia Irene Church, Istanbul

            Hagia Irene was commisioned by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century
Hagia Irene, located on the grounds of the Topkapi Palace, is an ancient building. It is in fact the oldest church in Istanbul, but most of what you see today dates from the 8th century when the church was damaged by a eartquake.
Hagia Irene - old foundations. Hagia Sophia in background
Hagia Irene is located behind the fortified walls of the Topkapi palace. It is one of those buildings you could tell is old, just by its apperance. Within her walls Christianity, as we know it, was formed. The First Council of Constantinopel was held in Hagia Irene, confirming the Nicene Creed as we know it today as well as banning the heresy of Arius

Hagia Irene is ranked as older as  the impressive Hagia Sophia, commisioned by Emperor Constantin himself in the 4th century, even though it was severely damaged by an eartquake in the 8th century, and then rebuilt. The church is said to have been preceeded by a pagan temple, meaning that the site has ben used for religious purposes for 2000 years! Hagia Irene is probably the oldest historic site I have ever visited.

The walls of the Topkapi Palace surrounds the Hagia Irene
The fascinating thing is, that the subterranean base, has been exposed so you can see the foundation of the building. At Hagia Irene you are looking at world history, literally.

After the conquest of Constantinopel in 1453 the Hagia Irene was used as an arsenal and warehouse for war booty. It was restored in 1846 and became the first Turkish museum. It is open by special appointment (except Mondays), and sadly we had not made one, so we had to admire the exterior - only. I would, however, if visiting Istanbul, tried to get admission to Hagia Irene.


Vis Istanbul A-Z 2009 Updated January 12th 2012 i et større kart

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