Byzantine Churches in Constantinople Part 23

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[319] _Ibid._ pp. 403-4.

[320] Chevalier, _Voyage de la Propontide et du Pont Euxin_, vol. i.

p. 108.

[321] _De top. C.P._ iii. c. 8, 'habens inter se cisternam, cujus camera lateritia sustinetur columnis marmoreis circiter s.e.xaginta'; cf. _Die byzant. Wa.s.serbehalter_, pp. 59, 222-23. The bath of Kyzlar Agha.s.si Hamam may represent the bath built by the eunuch Nicetas, in the reign of Theophilus, and was probably supplied with water from the cistern beside it (Banduri, vi. p. 133).



The identification of the church of S. John the Baptist in Trullo ([Greek: Mone tou hagiou prophetou prodromou Ioannou tou en to Troullo]) with the mosque of Achmed Pasha Mesjedi is based on two reasons: first, because of their common proximity to the church of the Pammakaristos,[322] now Fetiyeh Jamissi; secondly, on the ground of the tradition current in the Greek community on that point. The latter reason is in this case particularly strong, seeing the church of the Pammakaristos was the patriarchal cathedral almost immediately after the Turkish conquest, and retained that honour until 1591.[323] The highest Greek ecclesiastical authorities were therefore in a position to be thoroughly acquainted with the dedication of a church in their close vicinity. In 1578 the protonotarius of the patriarch showed Gerlach the site of the Trullus close to Achmed Pasha Mesjedi.[324]

The church is mentioned in history only by Phrantzes,[325] who informs us that when the Patriarch Gennadius transferred the patriarchal seat to the monastery and church of the Pammakaristos, certain nuns previously accommodated in that House were removed to the neighbouring monastery of S. John Baptist in Trullo. Phrantzes explains the designation of the church, 'in Trullo,' as derived from a palace named Trullus which once stood in the vicinity to the north of the Pammakaristos. It was the palace, adds the historian,[326] in which the Council of Constantinople, known as the Concilium Quinis.e.xtum ([Greek: Penthekte]), or the second Concilium Trullanum, a.s.sembled in 692, in the reign of Justinian II. But the palace Trullus, in which the first Concilium Trullanum met in 680, was one of the group of buildings forming the Great Palace[327] beside the Hippodrome, and there the second Concilium Trullanum also held its meetings.[328] Phrantzes is therefore mistaken in a.s.sociating the Council of 692 with a palace in the vicinity of the Pammakaristos and Achmed Pasha Mesjedi. But his mistake on that particular point does not preclude the existence of a palace named Trullus in the neighbourhood of the Pammakaristos. In fact, the existence of such a palace in that district is the only possible explanation of the attachment of the style 'in Trullo' to a church on the site of Achmed Pasha Mesjedi. Nor is it strange to find a name pertaining primarily to a building in the Great Palace transferred to a similar building situated elsewhere. The imperial residence at the Hebdomon, for example, was named Magnaura after one of the halls in the Great Palace.[329] There was an Oaton or Trullus in the palace of Blachernae,[330] and in the palace at Nicaea.[331] Consequently, a palace known as the Oaton or the Trullus might also be situated near the Pammakaristos, to command the fine view from that point of the city.

Mordtmann,[332] indeed, maintains that the building to which Phrantzes refers was the palace at Bogdan Serai, the subsequent residence of the Moldavian hospodar in Turkish days, and that the church of S. John in Trullo was not Achmed Pasha Mesjedi, but the church of S. John in Petra (Kesme Kaya) beside that palace. This opinion, however, is at variance with the statements of Phrantzes and Gerlach. Furthermore, the designation 'in Petra' was so distinctive a mark of the church of S.

John near Kesme Kaya, that the church could scarcely have been recognised under another style.

[Ill.u.s.tration: PLATE LV.


[Ill.u.s.tration: BALABAN MESJEDI (page 265). INTERIOR VIEW.

_To face page 202._]

[Ill.u.s.tration: FIG. 68.]

_Architectural Features_

S. John in Trullo belongs to the ordinary 'four column' type of church building, and has a narthex. Its three apses are semicircular both within and without, presenting the only instance in Constantinople of apses semicircular on the exterior. The central apse projects m. 3 beyond the body of the building, and was lighted by a large but low window, divided into three lights by two pilasters crowned with carved capitals (for details see Fig. 68); the diaconicon has been built up to form the mihrab of the mosque; the prothesis, to the north, has a barrel vault.

[Ill.u.s.tration: FIG. 69.]

The drum dome is octagonal, with eight ribs and as many windows. It seems large for the size of the church, and is lower than usual inside.

The windows do not cut into the exterior cornice of the dome. Originally the dome arches rested on four piers or columns, but these have been removed in the course of Turkish repairs, and the dome arches are now supported by beams running across the church, under the impost of the arches.

The arms of the cross to the north and south have barrel vaults, and the walls are pierced by triple windows. Two capitals built into the exterior face of the northern wall, and marked with a cross, were doubtless the capitals of the shafts which divided the northern window into three lights. The western arm of the cross is covered by the roof of the narthex, and lighted by a small round-headed window above it. The small narthex is in three bays, covered with cross-groined vaults.

It is not probable that the church was converted into a mosque before 1591, when the patriarchal seat was removed from the Pammakaristos to S.

Demetrius beside the Xyloporta. Nor could the conversion have been later than 1598, the year in which Achmed Pasha--who converted the building into a mosque--died.[333]

[Ill.u.s.tration: FIGS. 70 AND 71.]

[322] Phrantzes, p. 307.

[323] Patr. Constantius, p. 80.

[324] _Tagebuch_, p. 456. On the way eastwards from the residence of the Moldavian agent (Bogdan Serai), says Gerlach, 'Auf diesem Spazier-weg hat mir Theodosius auch den Trullum auf der Seiten des Patriarchats gegen dem Sultan Selim gewiesen. Welches vor diesen ein sehr weiter Platz gewesen, nun aber nichts mehr da als ein rundes getaffeltes Haus, wie ein kleines Kirchlein ist.' Cf. his statement reported by Crusius in _Turcograecia_, p. 189: 'Patriarchatui contiguum est monasteriolum Joannis Baptistae a Graecis sanctimonalibus inhabitatum.'

[325] Phrantzes, p. 307; cf. _Turcograecia_, p. 189.

[326] It was also styled [Greek: oaton], 'the Oval,' after the form of its roof or of the body of the building itself (Synax., Sept. 14).

_Vita Stephani._ For the [Greek: oaton], see Labarte, _Le Palais imperial de Cons'ple_, pp. 62, 121, 122, 186.

[327] _Vita Stephani Junioris_, Migne, _P.G._ tom. 100, col. 1144 [Greek: en to hiero palatio, entha epilegetai ho Troullos hoper hemeis oaton kaloumen].

[328] Balsamon, vol. i. col. 501 [Greek: en to Troullo tou basilikou palatiou].

[329] Theoph. p. 541.

[330] Pachym. i. p. 405.

[331] _Acta et diplomata Graeca_, iii. p. 65; cf. Paspates, _Great Palace_, p. 248, Metcalfe's translation.

[332] _Proceedings of Greek Syllogos of C.P._, Archaeological Supplement to vol. xvii. p. 8. His princ.i.p.al reason seems to be the fact that a company of nuns occupied some of the cells in the old monastery of S. John in Petra when Gerlach visited the city. But, according to Gerlach, another sisterhood was at the same time accommodated in the small convent of S. John the Baptist near the patriarchate.--_Turcograecia_, p. 189.

[333] Cf. Paspates, p. 304.



In the quarter of Aivan Serai, a few paces to the rear of the Heraclian Wall, stands a small mosque known as Toklou Ibrahim Dede Mesjedi, the architectural features of which proclaim it at once to be an old Byzantine chapel. There is no decisive tradition in regard to the ident.i.ty of the building. The Patriarch Constantius is uncertain whether it should be recognised as the church of S. Nicholas or as the church of S. Thekla, two sanctuaries situated in the quarter of Blachernae. It cannot have been the former, inasmuch as the site of that church was near the Holy Well, still venerated by Christians and Moslems,[334] in the area enclosed between the Wall of Heraclius and the Wall of Leo the Armenian, now a picturesque Turkish cemetery. One argument for regarding the building as the church of S. Thekla, in this part of the city, is the striking similarity of its Turkish name Toklou to the Greek name Thekla, rendering it exceedingly probable that the former is a corruption of the latter, and a reminiscence of the original designation of the edifice.[335] Turkish authorities, however, have their own explanation of the name Toklou. In the _Historical and Geographical Dictionary_ of Achmed Rifaat Effendi, we are told that a certain Toklou Dede was the guardian of the tombs of the companions of Khaled, who took part in the first siege of Constantinople (673) by the Saracens. 'His real name was Ghazi Ismail; Dogulu was his nickname. Now Dogh is the Persian for a drink named Airan (a mixture of curds and water), and he was called Dogulu Dede because during the siege his business was to distribute that drink to the troops. At his request a Christian church near Aivan Serai was converted into a mosque. The church was formerly named after its founder, Isakias.'[336] Another Turkish explanation of Toklou derives the epithet from the rare Turkish term for a yearling lamb, and accounts for its bestowal upon Ibrahim Dede as a pet name given in grat.i.tude for his services to the thirsty soldiers engaged in the siege of the city.[337] In keeping with these stories is the tradition that the cemetery in the area between the Walls of Heraclius and Leo V. the Armenian, is the resting-place of Saracen warriors who fell in the siege of 673. But have we not here the fancy-bred tales which Oriental imagination weaves to veil its ignorance of real facts? When etymology or history fails, romance is subst.i.tuted. We may as well believe the tradition that the body of Eyoub, the standard-bearer of Mahomet, lies buried at the head of the Golden Horn, in the mosque of Eyoub, where the Sultan girds the sword on his accession to the throne. No Moslem graves could have been tolerated between the lines of the city's fortification in Byzantine days. The cemetery between the old walls near Toklou Ibrahim Dede Mesjedi must therefore be later than the Turkish conquest. And as soon as Moslems were laid there, it was almost inevitable that a church in the immediate neighbourhood should either be destroyed or converted into a mosque. By what name that mosque would thenceforth become known was, of course, an open question. The new name might be purely Turkish. But when it sounds like the echo of a name which we know belonged to a Byzantine building in this quarter of the city before Turkish times, it is more reasonable to regard the new name as a transformation of the earlier Greek term, than to derive it from fine-spun etymological fancies and historical blunders. The identification, therefore, of Toklou Ibrahim Dede Mesjedi with the church of S. Thekla, on the ground of the similarity of the two names, has a strong presumption in its favour.

[Ill.u.s.tration: PLATE LVI.


[Ill.u.s.tration: S. THEKLA. EAST END.

_To face page 208._]



On page 209, note 3, I have said that if the mosque Aivas Effendi (more correctly Ivaz Effendi), which is situated behind the Tower of Isaac Angelus within the old area of the palace of Blachernae, could be proved to stand on the site of a church, the argument in favour of the identification of the Church of S. Thekla with Toklou Dede Mesjedi would be weakened. Since this book went to the press, my learned friend Mr. X. A. Siderides has shown me a pa.s.sage in the historical work of Mustapha Effendi of Salonica, published in 1865, where the mosque of Ivaz Effendi is described as a church converted into a mosque by a certain Ivaz Effendi who died in 1586, at the age of ninety. In that case we should have a Christian sanctuary whose position corresponded strictly with the position occupied by the Church of S. Thekla "in the palace of Blachernae," an indication not exactly accurate in regard to Toklou Dede Mesjedi. In view of the late date of Mustapha Effendi's work, and the absence, so far as I can judge, of Byzantine features in the structure of the mosque, it is difficult to decide if the arguments in favour of the identification of the Church of S. Thekla with Toklou Dede Mesjedi are entirely overthrown by the statement of Mustapha Effendi.

A second consideration in support of this identification is the statement made by Achmed Rifaat Effendi, that before the church became a mosque it was known by the name of its founder, 'Isakias.' For it is a matter of history that the church of S. Thekla was restored by the Emperor Isaac Comnenus[338] in the eleventh century. The a.s.sociation of his name with the building was therefore perfectly natural, if the building is indeed the old church of S. Thekla, otherwise it is difficult to account for that a.s.sociation.

There is, however, one objection to this identification that must not be overlooked. According to Byzantine authorities, the church of S. Thekla stood in the palace of Blachernae ([Greek: entos ton basileion; en to palatio ton Blachernon][339]). That palace occupied the heights above Aivan Serai, on which the quarter of Egri Kapou and the mosque of Aivas Effendi now stand, within the walls that enclose the western spur of the Sixth Hill. Toklou Ibrahim Dede Mesjedi, however, does not stand within that enclosure, but immediately to the north of it, on the level tract that stretches from the foot of the Sixth Hill to the Golden Horn. If the reasons in favour of regarding the mosque as S. Thekla were less strong, this objection would, perhaps, be fatal. But the strip of land between the northern wall of the palace enclosure and the sea is so narrow, and was so closely connected with the life of the imperial residence, that a building on that tract might with pardonable inaccuracy be described, as 'in the palace.'[340]

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Byzantine Churches in Constantinople Part 23 summary

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