Çarşamba Tour, April 2018

Ayşe and I toured the northern part of the old walled city of Istanbul—including the religiously conservative district of Çarşamba—with our student Abdullah and his brother Yusuf on Sunday, April 8, 2018. At another site I documented a similar tour in March, 2015. Now I do not try to be so thorough. I did not try to document the whole trip photographically, but here is a selection of pictures that I did take. We saw Byzantine and Ottoman structures. For the former, I have since found a comprehensive reference: The Byzantine Legacy.


We started from the Veznecizade (“son of the cashier”) metro station, which brings you to the surface facing Kalenderhane Mosque. This was once a Greek church, thought to be dedicated to the Theotokos Kyriotissa. Not surprisingly, on Sunday morning it was locked.


The Şehzade Mosque is the masterpiece of Sinan’s youth.

Column of Marcian

This column is dedicated to the emperor who reigned 450–7, though it “is not documented in any late Roman or Byzantine source and its history has to be inferred from its location, style and dedicatory inscription.”

Zeyrek Mosque

This was once the Monastery of the Pantocrator. We could not get in. It was being restored by Byzantinists until the Istanbul municipality kicked them out. I speculate that the scholars might have been able to show that the mosque ought to be turned into a museum.

We paused at the tomb (kabir) of one Abdülkadir Dede. “Dede” means grandfather, but may also be a religious title. Many tombs from Ottoman times are preserved as shrines, at least in Turkey; perhaps in Arabia the Saudi destroyed them as idolatrous.

Neither could we enter the Eski Imaret Mosque, thought to have been the church of the Monastery of Christ Pantepoptes, and now undergoing some kind of renovation.

After Sağrıcılar Mosque, which sits by the Golden Horn, the Yarhisar Mosque, dated to 1461, is said to the oldest mosque built as such in the city. With the rest of its district, it burned in 1917, and it was restored in 1954–6. (Source: Sumner-Boyd and Freely, Strolling Through Istanbul.)

I don’t know anything about the Şeyhülislam Mehmed Cemâleddin Efendi Câmii, but perhaps it is named for the judge who died in exile in 1917.

The original Darüşşafaka school building sat for years with a canopy over it, pending restoration. Now the work seems to have been done. The guard did not let us far into the grounds. I centered a photograph on the distant Süleymaniye Mosque, the masterpiece of Sinan’s middle age. The masterpiece of his maturity is the Selimiye Mosque, which Ayşe and I visited last year in Edirne.

Yavuz Selim Mosque

The Selimiye in Edirne was commissioned by Sultan Selim II, called the Sot. His father Süleyman the Magnificent commissioned the Yavuz Selim Mosque in memory of his father, Sultan Selim I, called the Grim.

The Yavuz Selim Mosque is next to the Cistern of Aspar, known in Turkish as Çukurbostanı, “sunken garden.” Now the gardeners have been evicted, and the pit is used for sport.

We were in the heart of Çarşamba, where many men wear beards, and many women wear a black chador. We ate lunch. Hidden away on a side street was the Hirâmî Ahmed Paşa Mosque, another old Byzantine church, apparently the smallest extant in the city. It was prayer time, and neighbors were entering, but our faithful companions declined to join in.


Instead we proceeded to the parecclesion—now a museum—of the former Church of the Theotokos Pammakaristos; the rest of the church is the Fethiye Mosque, but we did not try to enter this.

A longer walk brought us to the former Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, now all covered up on the outside. The nave is closed, but we toured the mosaics of Mary and Baby Jesus in the two narthices, and the fresco of the Harrowing of Hell in the parecclesion.

Mihrimah Sultan

I induced everybody to come to the gem which is Sinan’s Mihrimah Sultan Mosque.

We climbed the Theodosian Walls nearby.

Ayşe and I live and work among the highrises seen through the smog.

We left the old city by the gate through which Mehmet the Conqueror entered on Tuesday morning, May 29, 1453. We passed through the cemetery and got on the Metrobüs.

One Trackback

  1. By Samatya Tour, July 2018 « Polytropy on July 5, 2018 at 7:40 am

    […] « Çarşamba Tour, April 2018 […]

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