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AN ANCIENT CITY ISTANBUL ; Byzantine Buildings in Istanbul

Updated on September 28, 2015
Galata Tower
Galata Tower

Istanbul has been the capital of Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires

Istanbul is the only city in the world that is located on two continents (Europe and Asia) .

During its 25,000-year history, it has been the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires.

With her gorgeous heritage, Istanbul offers various places and monuments to see.

In this article I will introduce the Byzantine buildings .

Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)

Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia

Serapim Angels of Hagia Sophia

After 160 years of darkness, Seraphim's face is in daylight. There are 4 seraphim mosaics ( God's protector angels with 6 wings) on the 4  pendentives that carry the dome.
After 160 years of darkness, Seraphim's face is in daylight. There are 4 seraphim mosaics ( God's protector angels with 6 wings) on the 4 pendentives that carry the dome. | Source

Old & Magnificient

The Basilica of Hagia Sophia was constructed by Roman Emperor Justinian in 537 AD. This was the largest church in the Christian world for a thousand years.Its immense dome rises nearly 200 feet above the ground and its diameter spans more than 100 feet. The mosaics covering the walls are among the most important works of art that have survived to this day of the Byzantine era.

Large round buildings had been successfully covered by domes before, but Hagia Sophia had a rectangular floor plan, and covering a large rectangular structure by a huge central dome was being tried for the first time in history. The dome collapsed and repaired many times.

The Ottomans converted the basilica to a mosque in the 15 th century after the conquest of Istanbul. Recognizing its historic and universal importance, the Turkish Government turned it into a museum in 1935.


Cora Museum -Kariye & The Church of St.Saviour Pantocrator

The Kariye Museum is, after Hagia Sophia, the most important Byzantine monument in Istanbul. The existing building was built towards the end of the 11th century and dedicated to Christ the Savior. After the Turkish conquest, the church remained deserted for a time, and was turned into a mosque in 1511 by addition of a minaret. It became a museum in 1948 and its frescoes were cleaned and restored by the American Institute of Byzantine Research.

The walls are decorated with superb 14th century mosaics, illustrating scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary. These are the finest masterpieces of Christian religious art to be found anywhere in the world. Paintings, rocks and architectural designs seen in the background make the pictures three-dimensional. The scenes are made with special care for them to look daily, lively and ordinary. The scenes are enriched with explicating stories near them.

*The Church of St.Saviour Pantocrator: Between 1118 and 1124 Byzantine Empress Eirene Komnena built a monastery on this site dedicated to Christ Pantokrator.The monastery consisted of a main church, also dedicated to the Pantokrator, a library and a hospital.

Shortly after the Conquest of Constantinople the building was converted into a mosque, and the monastery was converted for a while into a Medrese. The Ottomans named it after Molla Zeyrek, a scholar who was teaching there. However, due to its importance in Byzantine history, Zeyrek was one among the few buildings of Istanbul whose ancient denomination was never forgotten. Among others, the church of Pantokrator is remembered by Pierre Gilles in his classic work about Constantinople, written in the sixtenth century. The rooms of the monastery occupied by the Medrese vanished later.

City Walls

They were built to protect the city from enemies, the construction started in 413. The wall is 6-7 km. long starting from the Marble Tower on the Marmara shore up to the Golden Horn. They are relatively well protected, are a part of the city. People have vegetable gardens near the walls, in some parts buildings have been built into gaps between pieces of the wall that remain standing. You can imagine the ancient times but be a part of today's Istanbul around the walls.

The Maiden's Tower

The Maiden's Tower is a Byzantine tower built on a very small islet near the coast of Usküdar. There is a sad legend connected to the tower. A king had a beautiful daughter , one day an oracle prophesied that she would be killed at her 8th birthday by snake venom. To avoid this fate the king built the tower in the middle of the sea and placed her daughter away from land but on her 18th birthday the princess was bite by a venomous snake that was hiding in a basket of fruits. She died in her father's arms just as the oracle said. .

Tower of leondoras - Maiden's Tower

Ancient Istanbul
Ancient Istanbul

Other Important Byzantine Monuments

Serpent Column

Kiz Kulesi (Tower of Leandros)


Basilica Cistern

Istanbul From a Nobel price Author

Orhan Pamuk is a famous Turkish writer who had been awarded the 2006 Nobel prize writes about Istanbul



Eminönü İstanbul, Türkiye

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The Old city

İstanbul, Türkiye

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