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Transformed Byzantine Church: Molla Zeyrek Mosque’s History

In Istanbul, Türkiye the Pantokrator Monastery Church, built by the Byzantine Empire 887 years ago, has a rich history. It was constructed in 1124 and completed in 1136, with three parts dedicated to different religious figures. However, during the Latin invasion, the church was looted, and many artifacts were taken to Venice. After the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, it was converted into the Molla Zeyrek Mosque, named after Molla Zeyrek Mehmed Efendi, a prominent scholar of the time. The mosque has a unique architectural design with three main domes, including a burial chapel dedicated to Archangel Michael. Remarkably, mosaic floors from the Byzantine period still exist on the church’s floor. In 2009, after extensive restoration, it was reopened for worship in 2019. The mosque is not just a place of worship; it also played a significant role in early Ottoman education, serving as the first educational institution in Istanbul. The complex includes mosques, madrasas, and other units. Today, it stands as a UNESCO World Heritage site and a remarkable piece of Istanbul’s history, preserved by the General Directorate of Foundations.


Semanur Kaygısız – Ahmet Faruk Sarıkoç

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