Friday, June 1, 2012

Fethiye Mosque, Theotokos Pammakaristos Church

As most of its interior walls were destroyed to open place for the public, and remaining exterior side walls were scraped and painted; only a little part of it could survive. Despite these, it is the second Byzantine church possessing the highest number of mosaics after the Chora church and Hagia Sophia.
It's located in Fatih, Çarşamba, at the top of a hill looking down at the Golden Horn. One can go there on foot from the seaside, going up the Çiçekli Bostan Street; or from Adnan Menderes Boulevard, by walking on Akşemsettin Street towards the Golden Horn ( The full name of the church is Theotokos Pammakaristos. Theotokos  means “The mother of God  (The Mother Mary)”, Pammakaristos means “Superior, Almighty”.

Fethiye Mosque - Pammakaristos Church

There is conflicting data about the construction date of the Church. While some sources claim that it was constructed in XI. century by Michael Ducas the VI., some claim that it survived from the VIII. century. In a limited number of sources that could give the most certain date, Ioannes Kommenos and his wife Anna Doukina were claimed to have the church constructed in 1292. It is among the most significant pieces of the Late Byzantine, Palaiologos architecture.
Following Istanbul’s invasion by the Ottomans, it hosted the Greek Orthodox Patriarch from 1556 to 1586. In 1591, in the period of Murat the III., it was turned into a mosque and it was given the name “Fethiye Mosque” in memory of the conquests of Georgia and Azerbaijan. It was restored by the American Byzantine Institute in 1494. Today, the large part of the structure is used as a mosque and the small part, which was added in XIV. century as a chapel, is used as a museum. When Fatih (Mehmet the second) conquered the city, he assigned Gennadius as the patrich with a magnificent ceremony. Gennadius was a vigorous supporter of the Aristotelian philosophy who was an expert in western philosophy as well as theology. He worked there for nearly 6 years. Faith visited him frequently. The two negotiated on various issues for long times. Gennadius and Fatih formed the principles that would determine the position of Orthodox Greek within the Ottoman state.

The most significant and beautiful mosaic in the church is the one in the main dome, which depicts Pantokrator Christ and the 12 apostles of the Old Testament. Here, Christ is in the middle and the apostles surround him. It evokes a great admiration in people looking at it. In this mosaic, Christ was drawn as “Pantokrator” (it stemmed from God names and definitions like “Honorable” and “Almighty”  in Judaism and the translation of the Hebrew Bible into ancient Greek) which is among the basic concepts of the Christian iconography. The big Christ icon in Hagia Sophia is again in “Pantokrator” concept. Greek names of the 12 apostles of the Old Testament are written on their pictures, and the following are written in the texts they are holding in their hands:
Pantokrator Christ and the 12 apostles of the Old Testament

Isaiah - "Do you see? The God is above the clouds"
Oses - "Oh God, you are the creator of creators, the God of Gods”
Jeremiah - "He is our master. He cannot be compared with anything”
Zephaniah - "The world will burn with the fire of my jealousy”
Micah - "Our master’s home will rise above the hill”
Joel - " Don’t worry, the world will be a happy place again, thanks to the beauties crated by our master”
Zechariah - "Mountain of the master of the host”
Obadiah - "Will be safe on the hills of Jerusalem”
Habakkuk - "Oh, Master, I have heard your voice”
Jonah - "And my prayers reach you”
Malachi - "As I have said, I’ll send my apostles”
Ezekiel - "And when all living believers leave”
Apart from this mosaic, there is a big mosaic describing the baptism of Christ and the large and small mosaics on which saints are mostly portrayed.

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