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Turkey tour

A view of the Christian Monuments in Turkey
By Seif Kamel

Historical background

Turkey and Anatolia in particular has played a major role in the spread of Christianity all over Roman. The followers of Jesus Christ were first called Christians in Anatolia by many Roman kings and rulers.

The Virgin Mary has lived the last years of her life in Ephesus with the care of St John. The House of Virgin Mary has become among the most important Christian monuments of Turkey added to many Turkey tour. 
The first community to declare Christianity to be their official religion was the Armenians of Turkey. Early Christians have taken Anatolia as their base from which they traveled all over the continent to spread Christianity and its concepts. 

Gradually more and more people converted to Christianity. Even with the Ottoman Empire conquer of Turkey in the 15th century; many of the Churches of Turkey were left finely preserved.

Goreme Open Air Museum

Located 15 kilometers to the East of Neveshir, the capital of then region of Cappadocia, the Goreme Open Air Museum hosts the most marvelous and precious rock cut Christian chapels and churches. Seems that the Christian have resorted to this mountain area after they were exposed to cruelty by Roman rulers and kings  

Most of these structures date back to the beginning of the 9th century. They were all cut out of soft volcanic rocks. Most of the chapels’ exhibits magnificently painted Byzantine Christian drawings inspired by the New and the Old Testament. Many tourists visit this open air museum everyday as part of their Turkey tour.

The Turkish government has restored many of the components of the museum and this was before the UNESCO declared the Goreme Open Air Museum as a world heritage site.

The Barbra Church takes its name from a fresco situated on the west walls of the Chapel displaying Saint Barbra. This church is famous for its marvelous wall paintings.

There are also the Dark Church, built around a small courtyard with many paintings displaying the ascension of the Christ and the Tokali Church that is located near the entrance of the museum displaying some of the most remarkable frescos in the museum that has become a major element in many Turkey private tours

The Church of the St Stephen of the Bulgars in Istanbul

The most distinctive feature of the structure of this church is that it was all cast in iron even the internal columns and galleries. These elements were actually manufactured in Vienna in 1871, exported to the Golden Horn, and the put together in the site of the construction of the church.

This church was built because the Bulgarians needed a place to carry out their rituals after their separation from the authority of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch.

Even until today, this church is still used by the Bulgarian community who still put flowers on the marble tombs of the first Bulgarian.  Many travelers explore this important Christian monument when they spend their holidays in Istanbul.

The Church of Pammakarstos in Istanbul

This Byzantine Church is one of the hidden treasures of Istanbul. With many marvelous decorations only a few tourists visit the church every now and then. This is away from its historical significance as the church has played a major role hosting the Orthodox Patriarch for a century after the Ottoman conquest of the city. However, this Church, the same as the famous Hagia Sophia, was transformed into a mosque in the 16th century. 

The building of the church today acts as a museum receiving many guests from all over the world every year coming to spend their vacations in Turkey.

The exterior of the church was constructed in the charming byzantine style with bricks and marvelous marble decoration. Dating back to the 14th century, the remarkable mosaic works show some figures with many golden decorations around them.

The Church has many portraits of the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist while they are overlooked by the four archangels. The Church has become popular among travelers going on tours to Istanbul

The Church of Pantocrator in Istanbul

The wife of Emperor John II, Empress Irene, has established this church, the church of the Christ the almighty, in the 12th century.

This ancient complex included an asylum, a hospice, and a hospital. The same as many other Christian structures in Istanbul, the church was converted into a mosque.

The church has an amazing marble floor and it is consists of three interlinked chapels. Guests are allowed to enter the church, away from prayer times, escorted by a caretaker.  
The Church of Saint John the Studius

This is the oldest surviving Church in Istanbul. However, what remains of what was once a great structure is a shell consisting of its outer walls. However, the guests can still view the beauty of one of the most important Byzantine churches in the region.

The Church which was built by Studius, a roman Patriarch, was constructed in 463 AD.  The church was associated with the most powerful monastery in the Byzantine Empire and it was modified to be a famous spiritual and intellectual center in the 8th century.

The most sacred relics among the church was the head of John the Baptist until it was removed by the forth crusade soldiers

The church was transformed into a university in the 15th century and at the end it was converted into a mosque by the Ottomans.

The whole structure of the church was ruined in 1894 due to an earthquake and it was abandoned

The Church of Saint John the Studius originally consisted of a beautiful basilica with a marvelous entrance portal with many rich decorations that travelers going on Turkey private tours explore everyday

The Church of Saint Saviour in Chora

 This is one of the best preserved Byzantine Churches in Turkey. The complex has some of the finest mosaics and frescos in the whole country. This is the most popular Christian monument in Turkey that is visited by hundreds of tourists everyday who spend marvelous trips in Turkey.

Scholars were not able to know a lot about the early history of the Church, however, its name "In Chora" that means "in the country" assert that it was originally built in a rural area.

The Church that we see today was built around the 11th century and it was rebuilt again in the middle of the 14th century adding the mosaics and frescos. Many Turkey private tours include a visit to the church as part of the guest’s stay in Istanbul.  

The crown of the southern dome of the church has the figure of the Christ and his ancestors were drawn on the flutes of the dome in a marvelously designed scene.

There are three panels in the nave of the church with one of them demonstrating the "Dorrmation of the Virgin" and it was well preserved because of its outer marble protection frame. The Virgin is depicted lying down watched by Apostles and Christ seated at the back.

The frescoes of the church were probably built around 1320 and most of them display scenes from the Old and the New Testaments.  Anastasia is the name of the most famous fresco in the church. It has a central image of the Christ and beneath him there are the gates of hell and an image of Satan. 

This Church is one of the greatest all over Europe and it is usually added to many escorted Turkey tours.        
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