Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople known today as Gül Camii

Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople, between 867-886 or 1000-1150
Gül Camii since the last decade of the 15th century

A beautiful Byzantine Church was once created… “Not (just for) the rhetors or philosophers, / not those who study the writings of Hellenes, / not those who read pagan writings, / not those who lead a theatrical life, / not those who talk in a polished and sophisticated manner, / nor those who receive great titles…” but for all citizens of the great city of Constantinople! Preparing for my new POST Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople known today as Gül Camii I thought that this small part of Symeon the New Theologian’s Hymn, could serve as a suitable Introduction for a Byzantine Church that still serves today the citizens of the same city… as a Moslem Mosque. Writing and Reading Byzantine Secular Poetry, 1025-1081, by Floris Bernard, 2014, p. 157 https://www.academia.edu/7915672/Writing_and_Reading_Byzantine_Secular_Poetry_1025_1081 and on Symeon the New Theologian file:///C:/Users/aspil/Downloads/5.2mcguckin.pdf

This is a Byzantine cross-in-square plan Church with a triple apse, dated to the 9th, 11th, or 12th century, with… a lot of questions to pose!

Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople – Plan, between 867-886 or 1000-1150
Gül Camii since the last decade of the 15th century
The ground floor of the Gül Mosque in Istanbul, after Van Millingen (1912)

The Architecture of this impressive building is complex and complicated. The Church is built on top of “a vaulted basement, which forms a raised platform for the monument… with walls (still) exposed to the southeast and east, where the terrain slopes down towards the Golden Horn.” What a magnificent location! The architect of the original Church created a lofty space with “a wide entry hall, capped with a low barrel vault (and) a triple archway leading into the tall domed nave.” The Greek cross was formed by “galleries forming the side arms… and an (impressive) apsidal sanctuary at its southeast end.” Triple archways were used to enter the side galleries, taller than the entry hall, adding to the building’s lofty atmosphere. Architectural alterations, the addition of a gallery, during the Palaiologan and the Ottoman periods simply add to the building’s architectural questions. The Church was beautifully illuminated by five tiers of windows on the side facades, adding to its light and spacious ambiance. Finally, “the original dome would have rested on a tall drum pierced with windows and the supporting arches would be integrated into the barrel vaults on four sides.” Today, “the central dome, with its low octagonal drum carried on broad pointed arches, is recognizably Ottoman.” http://archnet.org/library/sites/one-site.jsp?site_id=7172 and https://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/hagia-theodosia

Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople, between 867-886 or 1000-1150
Gül Camii since the last decade of the 15th century

“The identity and dating of the church are difficult to determine, as it was significantly altered during both the Byzantine and Ottoman eras.” Traditionally, it has been identified as the Church of Hagia Theodosia, a most venerated martyr of the Iconoclastic period and a popular Constantinopolitan place of adoration. It has also been proposed that this is the Katholikon of the Monastery of Christ Euergetes, a grand Komnenian edifice of worship. It has also been suggested that Gül Camii is the Church of St Euphemia en tō Petriō. https://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/hagia-theodosia and http://eistinpolin330.blogspot.com/2011/05/gul-camii.html and https://www.academia.edu/1495653/Comnenian_monastic_foundations_in_Constantinople and http://constantinople.ehw.gr/Forms/fLemmaBodyExtended.aspx?lemmaID=11775

Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople, between 867-886 or 1000-1150
Gül Camii since the last decade of the 15th century
Exterior View

I like the present name of this old religious edifice whatever its identification may be… Gül Camii… the Mosque of the Rose. “According to tradition, the church was renamed Gül Camii… because on the day of the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans (29 May 1453), also the day of commemoration of St Theodosia, the church was filled with roses. This tradition is not considered accurate, since the Byzantine church was not converted into a mosque immediately after the Fall, but during the reign of Sultan Selim II (1566-1574). “It has also been associated (hence the Ottoman name of the building) with a Muslim saint known as Gül Baba (“Father Rose”) whose tomb is supposedly inside the church.” http://constantinople.ehw.gr/Forms/fLemmaBodyExtended.aspx?lemmaID=11775 and https://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/hagia-theodosia

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Location map of Gül Mosque in Istanbul.

Ring of Michael Stryphnos

Ring of Michael Stryphnos, late 12th – early 13th century, Enamel and gold, 1.9×3.2×3.2 cm, Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks Museum, Washington, DC, USA https://www.doaks.org/resources/bliss-tyler-correspondence/art/bz/BZ.1934.3.jpg/view

“The house of Angelus, which had thus found greatness so suddenly and unexpectedly thrust upon it, was neither old nor particularly distinguished.” Writes John Julius Norwich on page 156 of his book on Byzantium – The Decline and Fall… and continues “…for of all the families who at one time or another wore the imperial crown of Byzantium, the Angeli were the worst. Their supremacy was mercifully short: the three Angelus Emperors – Isaac II, Alexius III and Alexius IV – reigned, from first to last, a mere nineteen years. But each was in his own way disastrous, and together they were responsible for the greatest catastrophe that Constantinople was ever to suffer until its final fall.” The Ring of Michael Stryphnos in the Byzantine Collection of the Dumbarton Oaks Museum reminds me of one such catastrophic decision taken by Emperor Alexius III Angelus and its disastrous outcome.

The ring itself is impressive and beautiful. The Dumbarton Oaks experts describe it as having “a heavy gold hoop and a circular bezel with the bust of the Virgin, inscribed in Greek, Mother of God, in cloisonne enamel.”  The master jeweler used more enamel colours to brighten the ring up… pink for the face of the Mother of God, turquoise, green, red, and blue for the rest of the minuscule composition. “Around the beel is an enamelled inscription in Greek, Mother of God, help thy servant, which is continued on the hoop, Michael the Admiral Stryphnos. Michael Stryphnos has been identified as the Admiral of the Byzantine fleet under Emperor Alexius III Angelus (1195-1203). This beautiful, large, and enamelled gold ring, was probably given to Michael Stryphnos by Emperor Alexios III on the occasion of his appointment as the Megas Doux. Handbook of the Byzantine Collection – Dumbarton Oaks,  page 72 https://books.google.gr/books?id=8IlFkJOPYx0C&pg=PA72&lpg=PA72&dq=Ring+of+Michael+Stryphnos&source=bl&ots=KCzeV2w8di&sig=ACfU3U3KMHNMlVldzFqjDg1td6XJXvazpg&hl=el&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjHxrO9x4TwAhVYgv0HHXMkBPIQ6AEwDnoECA8QAw#v=onepage&q=Ring%20of%20Michael%20Stryphnos&f=false

Byzantine Seal of Michael Stryphnos, Megas Doux (1195-1203) (obverse side depicting St. Theodore (left) and St. Hyakinthos standing on either side of a tree), 1202, Lead Seal, 45.0 mm diameter, Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks Museum, Washington, DC, USA https://www.doaks.org/resources/seals/byzantine-seals/BZS.1947.2.1092

Michael Stryphnos is first recorded in Byzantine sources in 1192 as Sebastos and the head of the Vestiarion (the imperial treasury), under Emperor Isaac II Angelos. He then married Theodora, daughter of Andronikos Kamateros and the sister of the Empress Euphrosyne Doukaina, wife of Emperor Alexios III Angelos, the relationship with the Imperial family became closer and he became Megas Doux and the commander-in-chief of the Byzantine Navy. A lamentable choice for Alexios III because according to the historian Nikita Choniati, Stryphnos was “a man of Ring of Michael Stryphnos extraordinary rapacity and dishonesty of the rare.” Instead of fortifying the Byzantine navy, he used his position for personal gain. His actions “marked the effective end of the Byzantine fleet, which was, therefore, not able to resist the Fourth Crusade a few years later.” His position as Megas Doux, brought him to southern Greece as Governor of the area, visiting Athens ca. 1201-1202 AD. It was during this trip that the local Bishop, Michael Choniates, wrote a Eulogy in his honor and three interesting seals in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection survived time and destruction. https://amp.en.google-info.org/36817230/1/michael-stryphnos.html 

For a Student Activity on the Ring of Michael Stryphnos, please… Check HERE!

Gold Coin Pendant of Constantine the Great

Constantine the Great Gold Coin Pendant, 321 AD, Gold, Diameter: 92 millimetres, British Museum, London, UK

…it was becoming clear that Constantine was determined to put an end to Diocletian’s disastrous division of the Empire and to rule it alone. From 320, in defiance of recent tradition, he did not even include an easterner as one of the two annually elected Consuls, naming instead himself and his younger son; in 321 both his sons were named. The same year he began to gather together a huge war fleet, and to enlarge and deepen the harbour of Thessaloniki in readiness for its reception… writes John Julius Norwich in Byzantium, The Early Centuries, (pp. 47-48) and I think of the Gold Coin Pendant of Constantine the Great in the British Museum that commemorates the 321 Consulship and the ten years ahead that will change our world!

The British Museum Gold Coin Pendant of Constantine the Great is indeed spectacular! It is one of four or five similar Pendants, part of an impressive necklace, a very popular jewelry design of the Late Roman and Early Byzantine periods. Coin-set pendants were often of hexagonal shape, with a golden coin (solidus) placed in the center, and intricate pierced work, opus interrasile, for further ornamentation. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collectio n/object/H_1984-0501-1

Constantine the Great Gold Coin Pendant (obverse), 321 AD, Gold, Diameter: 92 millimetres, British Museum, London, UK

According to the British Museum experts “…In the centre of the pendant is a double solidus of Constantine the Great. On the obverse, (depicted is) a bust of Constantine… wearing a radiate diadem and cuirass and paludamentum, (with his) right hand upraised (while) around the bust, a Latin inscription reads D N CONSTANTINVS MAX AVG. On the reverse, (depicted are) two confronted laureate busts of Constantine II and Crispus, both wearing imperial costume and holding eagle-topped sceptres. Around and below them, a Latin inscription reads CRISPVS ET CONSTANTINVS NOB CAESS COSS II. In each angle of the hexagon (the artist of the pendant created) a bust in high relief: from top left moving clockwise (a) female bust with elaborate coiffure (is depicted) looking to (the) right, (then a) female bust (is depicted) looking to (the) left. (A) bearded bust (follows) looking to (to the) left, (a)female bust looking to (the) left (as well), (a) bust of Attis (follows) wearing (a) Phrygian cap looking to (the) right (and finally a) female bust (is depicted) looking to (the) right. Each bust is framed by a circlet of beaded gold wire and a plain collar of gold sheet. The interstices between the busts are decorated in opus interrasile, the design comprising a heart-shaped motif in plain reserved gold from which emanate two vegetal scrolls which in turn form a larger open-work heart; running scroll tendrils fill the spaces between the collars and inner and outer borders; the scroll tendril design is less skilfully replicated on the suspension loop.” An inscription in Latin, SIRM, confirms that the Medallion was minted in Sirmium. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1984-0501-1

For a Student Activity, please… check Here!

Anastasis at the Monastery of Hosios Loukas

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures; and that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve; after that, He was seen of above five thousand brethren at once.” 1 Cor. 15:3-6… The culmination for the Holy Week in the Orthodox Church comes with Anastasis! Happy Easter and… Rejoyce!https://www.goarch.org/-/holy-week-in-the-eastern-orthodox-church

This year’s Anastasis scene comes from the Narthex of the Katholikon Church in the Monastery of Hosios Loukas near the town of Distomo, in Boeotia, Greece. Along with the mid-11th century Nea Moni (“New Monastery”) on the island of Chios and the late-11th century Monastic Church at Daphni, in Attica, the visitor of these three Monasteries, will get an informative glimpse of monumental architecture and mosaic-work in Byzantium of the Macedonian Dynasty. A  glimpse that is impressive and awe-inspiring.  

Monastery of Hosios Loukas, founded in the early 10th century, Katholikon (1011-12) and the Church of the Theotokos (959-963), near the town of Distomo, in Boeotia, Greecehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hosios_Loukas

The location where the Monastery of Hosios Loukas was founded, is perfect… the slopes of Mount Helicon, a scenic valley and an olive grove. The founding father, Luke of Steiris… was respected and much loved by the local population. Retaining its authenticity, still, a vibrant Monastic Community with spiritual vigour, the Monastery of Hosios Loukas shows us today, how perceptive the 11th century Byzantines were!

The pilgrim/caller to the Monastery of Hosios Loukas is expected to visit three Churches, all of them unique in their own right.

Built under the great domed Katholiko Church, the Burial Crypt is decorated with remarkably well-preserved frescoes painted shortly after 1048 AD. Little damaged, with the exception of the apse, the iconographic programme of the Crypt is complete… an almost perfect example of how the interior of a Byzantine Church of the 11th century should be adorned.

Monastery of Hosios Loukas, founded in the early 10th century, Interior of the Church of the Theotokos (959-963), near the town of Distomo, in Boeotia, Greece

During the second half of the 10th century, the monastic community of Hosios Loukas built a remarkable Church, dedicating it to the Theotokos. Less visited by tourists, this is a place for serene contemplation. It is considered a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture, featuring the cross-in-square type architectural plan, similar to that of the Lips Monastery in Constantinople. Very little interior decoration survives but the beauty of the Church’s masonry is astounding. The cloisonne-style masonry is made of brick, stone or marble and curious pseudo-Kufic patterns are intricately displayed. Whenever I visit the Monastery of Hosios Loukas this is where I spent most of my time!

Monastery of Hosios Loukas, Interior of the Katholikon Church, 11th century, near the town of Distomo, in Boeotia, Greece

The 11th century Katholiko Church of the Monastery, impressive and imposing, stands next to the church of the Theotokos. Its purpose was to house the relic of St. Luke, which is “…said to have exuded Myron, a sort of perfumed oil which produced healing miracles.” This newer church, dedicated to St. Luke, is of the octagonal cross-in-square architectural type, with coloured marble panels on the walls and mosaics on the surfaces above them. The result is a unique, rich and luminous interior. Standing in the middle of the Katholikon Church is a unique experience to “feel.” https://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/hosios-loukas and https://gallerybyzantium.com/unlocking-the-secrets-of-hosios-loukas/

Monastery of Hosios Loukas, Katholikon Church Floor Plan, 11th century, near the town of Distomo, in Boeotia, Greece – The black-coloured star marks the location of the Anastasis mosaic http://papierdoreille.blogspot.com/2014/01/green-beautiful-byzantine.html

The amazing mosaic of the Anastasis in the Narthex area of the Katholikon Church of Hosios Loukas is a fine example of the early 11th-century style in Byzantine Art. It depicts the Resurrection of Christ, or in true Byzantine style, the Descent of Christ into Hades, according to the occult gospel of Nicodemus. Christ is depicted in the centre of the composition, unobstructed and enveloped by golden light, stepping at the gates of Hades and lifting Adam from within an open sarcophagus. Behind Adam is Eve and on the opposite side Biblical kings like Solomon and David. This is a mosaic of outstanding artistic quality, the product of a workshop whose practice goes back to Hellenistic times, stark and austere in essence but monumental, direct and highly spiritual.

Some Considerations on the Eleventh-Century Byzantine Wall Mosaics of Hosios Loukas and San Nicolò di Lido is an interesting article by Irina Andreescu-Treadgold to read.  aninterestinghttps://www.academia.edu/7926757/Some_Considerations_on_the_Eleventh_Century_Byzantine_Wall_Mosaics_of_Hosios_Loukas_and_San_Nicol%C3%B2_di_Lido?email_work_card=view-paper

For a Student Activity please… Check HERE!

Monastery of Hosios Loukas, Interior of the Katholikon Narthex, 11th century, near the town of Distomo, in Boeotia, Greece

The Raising of Lazarus by Duccio

Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1278 – 1318
The Raising of Lazarus, 1310–11, Tempera and gold on panel, 43.5 x 46.4 cm, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, USA https://www.kimbellart.org/collection/apx-197501

Lazarus Saturday… “Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany…” (John 12:1) and The Raising of Lazarus by Duccio is a wonderful painting to start our 2021 Journey of the Holy Week in the Greek Orthodox Church

Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1278 – 1318
The Raising of Lazarus (detail), 1310–11, Tempera and gold on panel, 43.5 x 46.4 cm, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, USA https://www.wikiart.org/en/duccio/raising-of-lazarus-fragment-1311

Duccio di Buonisegna is one o the greatest Μasters of Early Renaissance Art. Giorgio Vasari in his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, introduces the great Sienese artist with admiration and respect… “Without doubt those who are inventors of anything notable receive the greatest attention from the pens of the writers of history, and this comes to pass because the first inventions are more observed and held in greater marvel, by reason of the delight that the novelty of the thing brings with it, than all the improvements made afterwards by any man whatsoever when works are brought to the height of perfection, for the reason that if a beginning were never given to anything, there would be no advance and improvement in the middle stages, and the end would not become excellent and of a marvellous beauty. Duccio, then, painter of Siena and much esteemed, deserved to carry off the palm from those who came many years after him…” http://www.gutenberg.org/files/25759/25759-h/25759-h.htm#Page_7

My decision to start the 2021 Holy Week in the Greek Orthodox Church presentation with a painting by Duccio was carefully thought. James H. Stubblebine’s 1975 article Byzantine Sources for the Iconography of Duccio’s Maestà triggered my imagination… It was finally in his hands! A centuries-old Manuscript Codex from a Monastery somewhere in the land of ancient Macedonia. He felt curious and lucky and privileged to hold such a treasure in his hands! His spirit lifted, in awe… ideas and images wildly dancing in his head, a tingling sensation going down his hands… he felt the urge to start painting… a spiritual golden world, divine, yet with layered hills and trees effortlessly arranged to create a feeling of depth, ethereal figures clad in spring-like coloured robes… How can I combine His World and mine, he thought, and he started painting… The Art Bulletin, Vol. 57, No. 2 (Jun. 1975), pp. 176-185 (10 pages), Published by CAA https://www.jstor.org/stable/3049368?seq=1. (The text in italics is purely fictional)

Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1278 – 1318
Maesta – Back Side, 1310–11, Tempera and gold on panel, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena, Italy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maest%C3%A0_(Duccio)#/media/File:Maest_001_duccio_siena_duomo.jpg

In 1771 the Maesta was dismantled and damaged in the process. Few pieces were lost forever, some of its original panels were sold, and today, like orphan siblings, these panels are housed in European or American Museums. I always seek them out when I visit the National Gallery in Washington DC or the National Gallery, for example, in London. Viewing a Duccio panel is always a pleasure! Visiting, however, the Tuscan city of Siena, its splendid Cathedral and finally the first floor of its Museo Dell’Opera, where Duccio’s Maesta is exhibited, I am in “exaltation.” The Duccio Altarpiece, painted from 1308 to 1311 in Siena and exhibited in Sienna “visible from both sides, is one of the most prodigious artistic undertakings of all time.” If I may humbly add, it is also Duccio’s remarkable gesture of respect to the Byzantine artistic tradition, surprisingly still alive in Tuscany of the early fourteenth century. https://operaduomo.siena.it/en/sites/museum/ and https://www.kimbellart.org/collection/apx-197501

“Thus, under Duccio’s aegis, Byzantium had its last, and perhaps noblest stand on the Italian field.” https://www.jstor.org/stable/3049368?seq=1 Page 184

For a Student Activity on Duccio’s The Raising of Lazarus, please… Check HERE!

Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1278 – 1318
The Raising of Lazarus (detail), 1310–11, Tempera and gold on panel, 43.5 x 46.4 cm, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, USA https://twitter.com/roisin_donohoe/status/1276307352501784576/photo/2

The Interceding Theotokos at Dumbarton Oaks

Interceding Theotokos – Virgin Hagiosoritissa Relief, Middle Byzantine, mid-eleventh century, Marble, 104 cm x 40 cm x 7 cm, Dumbarton Oaks Museum, Washington, DC, USA https://www.doaks.org/resources/bliss-tyler-correspondence/art/bz/BZ.1938.62.jpg/view

“…denuded of all help, and deprived of human alliance, we were spiritually led on by holding fast to our hopes in the Mother of the Word, our God, urging her to implore her Son, invoking her for the expiation of our sins, her intercession of our salvation, her protection as an impregnable wall for us, begging her to break the boldness of the barbarians, her to crush their insolence, her to defend the despairing people and fight for her own flock…” writes Patriarch Photius in the second of his two homilies on the siege of Constantinople by the Rus’ and  Sirarpie der Nersessian, in his 1960 Dumbarton Oaks Papers article titled Two Images of the Virgin, quotes him. I couldn’t find better introductory remarks for a BLOG POST on the marble Icon of The Interceding Theotokos at Dumbarton Oaks. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291145?seq=15#metadata_info_tab_contents page 72 and https://www.doaks.org/resources/bliss-tyler-correspondence/art/bz/BZ.1938.62.jpg/view

The Dumbarton Oaks Museum is my favourite temple of the Muses in Washington DC! It breathes history, scholarship elegance and class… Its collection of Byzantine Art is top quality, the ways and the hows this collection was acquired fascinates me, the scholarship involved, I believe, is more than appreciated by everyone who loves Byzantium. https://www.academia.edu/3585132/_Royal_Tyler_and_the_Bliss_Collection_of_Byzantine_Art_in_James_N_Carder_ed_A_Home_of_the_Humanities_The_Collecting_and_Patronage_of_Mildred_and_Robert_Woods_Bliss_Washington_D_C_Dumbarton_Oaks_Research_Library_and_Collection_27_50?email_work_card=view-paper “Royal Tyler and the Bliss Collection of Byzantine Art,” in James N. Carder, ed., A Home of the Humanities: The Collecting and Patronage of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks

Dumbarton Oaks Museum – Byzantine Gallery

I confess, I first noticed The Marble Interceding Theotokos in the collection of Dumbarton Oaks when I visited the grand Metropolitan Museum Exhibition The Glory of Byzantium back in 1997. Exhibited then, along with the Lips Monastery Icon of Saint Eudokia from the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul, the two marble Icons “opened my eyes” in the genre of Sculpted Marble Icons from the Byzantine era. Ever since I seek them out, and when I visit the Museum of Byzantine Culture in my hometown Thessaloniki, I always pay my respects to the marble ΜΗ(ΤΗ)Ρ Θ(ΕΟ)Υ(=Mother of God) Icon in Room 4, where artefacts of the Macedonian and Komnenian dynasties are presented. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/The_Glory_of_Byzantium_Art_and_Culture_of_the_Middle_Byzantine_Era_AD_843_1261 and https://www.mbp.gr/en/object/marble-icon-praying-virgin

Icon with Saint Eudokia, early 10th century, Marble, inlaid with coloured glass, 66×28 cm, Archaeological Museum of Istanbul, Turkey
The Interceding Theotokos – Virgin Hagiosoritissa Relief, Middle Byzantine, mid-eleventh century, Marble, 104 cm x 40 cm x 7 cm, Dumbarton Oaks Museum, Washington, DC, USA
Praying ΜΗ(ΤΗ)Ρ Θ(ΕΟ)Υ(=Mother of God), 11th century, Marble, 135×70 cm, Museum of Byzantine Culture, Thessaloniki, Greece

One more confession… the title of this BLOG POST was a decision that troubled me. At Dumbarton Oaks Museum the marble Icon of the Theotokos is presented as Virgin Hagiosoritissa Relief. The Glory of Byzantium Exhibition Catalogue uses a similar name Icon of the Virgin Hagiosoritissa. I thought, this is it…until I started reading Sirarpie der Nersessian article Two Images of the Virgin in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection, and I changed my mind! The author presents in detail the different styles, whereabouts and use of Interceding Theotokos Icons in every medium! Bottom line… I was not convinced the Marble Icon of the Theotokos is of the Hagiosoritissa type… and the title changed to The Interceding Theotokos at Dumbarton Oaks.

For a Student Activity on The Interceding Theotokos at Dumbarton Oaks, please… check HERE!

Lips Monastery in Constantinople

Lips Monastery in Constantinople, East Side of both South and North Churches, 10h and 13h cent., Constantinople. Today the Byzantine Church is a Mosque known as Fenari Isa Cami. https://grandeflanerie.com/portfolio/byzantineistanbul/7/

“The frequent fires that have caused such terrible destructions in Constantinople have, in some respect, facilitated archaeological investigation and the study of Byzantine monuments. As is well known, the byzantine churches that have been converted into mosques usually stood tightly surrounded by wooden houses in the center of labyrinthic Turkish quarters. Following the disappearance of these obstructive houses, many Byzantine monuments have emerged as isolated ruins in the midst of wide open spaces… This has been the case with the monastery of Lips to which the Empress Theodora added towards the end of the thirteenth century the church of the Prodromos, intended as a mausoleum for herself and the family of the Palaeoplogi…” writes Theodore Macridy as an introduction to his article… and I am indebted for all the information he provides for the Lips Monastery in Constantinople and the Theotokos Panachrantos Church BLOG POST https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291214?origin=crossref&seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

Nicholas V. Artamonoff, 1908-1989
Monastery of Lips, Exterior view from the west, December 1935, Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection http://images.doaks.org/artamonoff/items/show/131

It was a summery June day of 907 (or 908) and Emperor Leo (Leo VI, called the Wise, 866-912) was on his way to the inauguration ceremony of a new Church dedicated to the Mother of God “Πανάχραντος.” The streets were quiet in the Lykos valley where Patrikios Constantinos Lips decided to commission his new Church taking into consideration novel architectural ideas. Constantinos Lips, aristocrat and military official, is at the peak of his career and he wants the Church of Πανάχραντοςto to reflect his status and… ambitions...

Lips Monastery in Constantinople (Today, Fenari Isa Camii, Istanbul), 10th to 14th century, Architectural Plan

The Church of Theotokos Panachrantos, or the North Church as is popularly known, is the oldest example of the cross-in-square domed type of Church Architecture in Constantinople. It is also a religious structure with a tripartite sanctuary to the east, and north to the west. The north and south vaults of the church terminate in huge windows that gloriously illuminate the interior of the church. The eastern vault extends over the church’s apse, creates a spacious Bema and is flanked by two tiny but elegant, quatrefoil structures that serve as the Prothesis and the Diakonikon. Apparently, the walls of this impressive church were further enhanced with marble veneering, both inside and outside. The Church of Theotokos Panachrantos was domed but the four columns supporting the vaults are missing, although three column bases survived the church’s probable fire destruction, and remain in their original positions. Equally interesting is the three-bay Narthex of the Church, which culminates, on its narrow sides, in shallow niches. Originally, the Narthex was preceded by a narrow exterior porch that covered the main entrance to the narthex. http://constantinople.ehw.gr/Forms/fLemmaBodyExtended.aspx?lemmaID=10907

Photo Reconstruction of the North Church by A. Megaw with minor alterations… https://www.byzantium1200.com/c-lipsos.html

The original Church of the Panachrantos, incorporated in its original design plan, had six additional Chapels. Two of them, single-naved, flanking the Prothesis and Diakonikon, are now lost in their initial state. The North Chapel suffered the most. Today only a part of its apse has been discovered and unearthed as the result of archaeological excavations. The Southern Chapel, on the other hand, located next to the Panachrantos Diakonikon, was partially saved, serving as the Prothesis of the, attached, thirteenth century Church of Saint John. Four more Chapels existed on the roof of the North Church. These Chapels, partialy destroyed during the fire of 1917, were not visible if you were inside the Church. Two of these Chapels, in quatrefoil shape, were situated over the western corner bays of the naos, and two more Chapels, located over the Diakonikon and Prothesis, were to be seen at the east end of the building. Access to the roof was through a staircase inside the tower south of the Narthex. https://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/lips

Nicholas V. Artamonoff, 1908-1989
Monastery of Lips, Marble Cornice of the Apse Arch (North Church), May 1937, Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection http://images.doaks.org/artamonoff/items/show/131

The North church provides probably the largest and the most “outstanding collection of Middle Byzantine sculptural decoration in Constantinople” write Cyril Mango and Ernest J. W. Hawkins in their 1964 DO article. What survived shows “a wealth of carved ornaments both inside and outside… (unique quality in execution, and the use of) …an endless variety of motifs – highly stylized palmettes, and “bouquets” of different forms, fleurons, stars and crosses (peacocks and eagles) – (that create) a sense of unit on the decoration as a whole.” The style of sculptural rendering is crisp, with sharp ridges that are carefully “smoothed down to the flat background upon which the forward contours of the motifs are repeated.” Mango and Hawkins proceed to an amazing description of amazing discoveries. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291216?origin=crossref&seq=6#metadata_info_tab_contents, pp. 304-311

The Church Constantinos Lips, built in the early 10th century, survived time, devastating fires and invasions. Attached to it, Empress Theodora, widow of Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (r. 1259–1282), established a second Church dedicated to St. John the Baptist known today as the “South Church.” Constantinos’s Church was now part of a prestigious Nunnery, a Xenon and the Burial “ground) of the Paleologean family. (…to be addressed)  

During the Ottoman period the Lips Monastery (South Church) served as a Mescit (a small mosque) and later, in 1636, after a fire in 1633, the South Church was upgraded to Camii while the North Church was converted into a Tekke (a dervish lodge). Two more fires down the path of history…the building was abandoned… but excavations in 1929, and a thorough restoration between the 1950s and the 1960s by the Byzantine Institute of America, gave it new life, so that today, known as Fenari Isa Camii, serves once again as a mosque.

An interesting Video of the exterior of Lips Monastery can be accessed … https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1703858606415101

For a Student Activity, please…Click HERE!

Monastery of Lips: The North Church Sculptural Decoration, early 10th century, Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Photo Credit: Dick Ossemann, https://pbase.com/dosseman/image/159013722

Unidentified Byzantine Building in Constantinople known today as Kefeli Mosque

Nicholas V. Artamonoff, 1908-1989
Kefeli Mosque in Istanbul, Nave and Apse from the south, March 1936, Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection     http://images.doaks.org/artamonoff/items/show/245

The moment was grave… it was the 22nd of July 838, hot and humid, and Emperor Theophilos,  was besieged by the army of Caliph al-Mu’tasim near the hill of Dazimon. Earlier on “while the sky darkened and rain begun to fall in torrents… (he) saw that his opposite wing was in difficulties and (omitting to tell his junior commanders what he was about to do) led 2,000 men round behind the center to reinforce it… his unexpected disappearance immediately gave rise to a rumour that he had been killed. Panic broke out, followed – as always – by flight; and when the rain stopped and the light returned Theophilos realized that he and his men were surrounded.” The moment was grave… but when the Khurramite soldiers in the emperor’s entourage reportedly began planning to surrender the Emperor to the Arabs, Manuel the Armenian, Domestic of the Schools, commander of the elite tagma of the Scholae and de facto commander-in-chief of the entire Byzantine army, seized the Emperor’s horse by the bridle and threatening the confused emperor with his sword, forcibly broke through the Arab lines, and brought Theophilos to safety in the nearby village of Dorylaeum. Although Byzantine military history is not my forte when I researched the history of the Unidentified Byzantine Building in Constantinople known today as Kefeli Mosque and the name of Manuel the Armenian came up, I was intrigued and I did my reading…      John Julius Norwich, Byzantium – The Apogee, 1993 Penguin Books, pp. 48     and     Warren T. Treadgold, The Chronological Accuracy of the “Chronicle” of Symeon the Logothete for the Years 813-845, DOP Vol. 33 (1979), p. 180, 181     https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291437?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3Ae308c8234dcf2fe514aff96de764bb09&seq=23#page_scan_tab_contents

Codex Græcus Matritensis Ioannis Skylitzes or Madrid Skylitzes, The Byzantine army under Emperor Theophilos retreats towards a mountain (detail), fol. 54r, 12th-13th centuries, Biblioteca Nacional de España, Madrid

It seems that there is a bit of a controversy between Byzantine Chronographers of what was the fate of the brave general… Some of the Chronographers report that Manuel the Armenian died of wounds that he received in the fateful battle of Dazimon (most probable) and was buried in the Monastery of Manuel in Constantinople, traditionally identified with the Kefeli Mosque. Other chronographers narrate how Manuel survived the battle, returned to Constantinople, took part in the second battle of Dazimon, and died, in the late 850s, a devoted Iconodule, during the reign of Emperor Michael III.     Warren T. Treadgold, The Chronological Accuracy of the “Chronicle” of Symeon the Logothete for the Years 813-845, DOP Vol. 33 (1979), p. 182, 183     https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291437?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3Ae308c8234dcf2fe514aff96de764bb09&seq=23#page_scan_tab_contents

Unidentified Byzantine Basilica Building in Constantinople known today as Kefeli Mosque, 9th century, Istanbul

Kefeli Mosque’s history is intriguing, to say the least. It is not yet established if it was originally part of the Byzantine Monastery of Manuel, founded in the mid 9th century, rebuilt by Patriarch Photius, restored once more by Romanos I Lekapenos and used by Emperor Michael VII to retire after his deposition. Scholars are not even sure if the ΚΤΗΤΩΡ(founder) of the Monastery was indeed Manuel the Armenian, and if the Monastery was founded within Manuel’s residential complex. More importantly, scholars can not be certain if the surviving building was originally a Church or a Monastic refectory. It seems that all scholars agree that it was never the Katholiko of a Monastery.

Alexandros Georgiou Paspates, 1814-1891
Byzantinai meletai topographikai, 1877, Constantinople
https://ia800304.us.archive.org/0/items/vyzantinaimelet00unkngoog/vyzantinaimelet00unkngoog.pdf page 332 and https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Moni_tou_Manouil.jpg

The building was a basilica, according to Paspates a “κτίριον δρομικόν” and recent studies describe it as an interesting example of how the early Christian Basilica form developed or adapted during the Middle Byzantine period. It is believed that Kefeli Mosque was a 3-aisled basilica building with an apse (polygonal outside, but semicircular inside with two niches) facing north.

What can be said with certainty, is that the presented Byzantine building successively served the Greek Orthodox population of the city, the Catholics along with the Orthodox Armenians, and since 1630 the Muslim population of Karagümrük neighbourhood in Fatih district of Istanbul. Its name comes from Caffa (Kefe) in Crimea.     https://ia800304.us.archive.org/0/items/vyzantinaimelet00unkngoog/vyzantinaimelet00unkngoog.pdf     and    http://suleymankirimtayif.com/pdf/ByzantineChurchesinIstanbul.pdf     and     http://www.istanbulvisions.com/kefeli_mosque.htm

An interesting Collection of Photographs of Kefeli Mosque can be seen in the ARIADNE – Digital Archaeology in Europe site put together by The German Archaeological Institute (DAI) Istanbul photo archive:     https://arachne.dainst.org/project/fotoistanbul     and     https://arachne.dainst.org/project/fotoistanbul/search?q=%22Kefeli%20Camii%22     In addition, the Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection – Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, is equally interesting to explore     http://images.doaks.org/artamonoff/items/show/244

 For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Map of Byzantine Constantinople: The Red star marks the location of Kefeli Mosque

Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople known today as Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii

Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople known today as Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii, original Byzantine construction date: 842-867
Photograph by Dick Osseman, East Façade, https://pbase.com/dosseman/atikmustafa
East Façade, Analysis of Masonry (after Mathews) https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291520?seq=8#metadata_info_tab_contents

It’s bitter cold, a snowy Sunday in the συμβασιλεύουσα του Βυζαντίου and I enjoy reading “Notes on the Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii in Istanbul and its frescoes” by Thomas F. Mathews and Ernest J. W. Hawkins in Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 39 (1985), pp. 125-134. My goal is to prepare for a new POST, titled… Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople known today as Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii.     https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291520?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople known today as Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii, original Byzantine construction date: 842-867
Photograph by Dick Osseman https://pbase.com/dosseman/atikmustafa

Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii is a historic Byzantine church in Constantinople, an Ottoman Mosque of great importance for the Muslims, and an intriguing building for the expert Art Historians in the academic world. I have to confess I never visited the building and that makes it difficult to talk about it… I rely, however, on Mathews and Hawkins Dumbarton Oaks Paper, the Encyclopedia of the Hellenic World presentation, the Byzantine Legacy report, and the precious photographs taken by Dick Ossemann. This may not be “all-inclusive,” it is the groundwork for my next trip… στην Πόλη!    https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291520?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents,    http://constantinople.ehw.gr/forms/fLemmaBodyExtended.aspx?lemmaID=11785,     https://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/atik     and     https://pbase.com/dosseman/atikmustafa

Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople known today as Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii, original Byzantine construction date: 842-867, drawing of 1877, from A.G. Paspates’ Byzantine Topographical Studies

References to early 20th-century bibliography and logical deductions lead Mathews and Hawkins to a first acceptance that the Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii is “the earliest Constantinopolitan example of a cross-domed church (and indeed the first Constantinopolitan church after Iconoclasm).” The authors further studied the articulation of the East End of the building, the design of the Apses (p. 127), the windows in the apses, drew comparisons to many Constantinopolitan churches for plausible similarities and drew the conclusion that the Atik share the most similarities with “the Theotokos of Lips (church) of 907 and the Myrelaion 920-22. With these churches the Atik shares the basic plan of three triple-faceted apses in which surfaces begin to be broken up by windows and niches set at varying levels.” Further comparisons (pp.127-128) on where apse windows were placed and the lack of horizontal cornices enhanced the belief that Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii “while closely related to the Lips and the Myrelaion, seems to represent an earlier stage in the evolution of apse design. Very likely it belongs to the second half of  the ninth century in the new surge of church building known from literary sources to have followed the defeat of Iconoclasm in 842 and the accession of Basil I in 867.”     https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291520?seq=4#metadata_info_tab_contents

The Dumbarton Oaks Paper by Mathews and Hawkins is an inexhaustible source of information I enjoyed reading. Groundwork accomplished, I feel ready for a future trip… στην Πόλη

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople known today as Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii, original Byzantine construction date: 842-867
South Wall Frescoes, https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291520?seq=8#metadata_info_tab_contents

Church of the Holy Martyr Polyeuktos

The Church of the Holy Martyr Polyeuctus, built by Anicia Juliana in the 520s, on the northern branch of Constantinople’s Mese, between the Forum Tauri and the Church of the Holy Apostles, today in the Saraçhane area of Istanbul. Photo by Dick Osseman https://pbase.com/dosseman/polyeuktos

“The empress Eudocia, in her eagerness to honour God, was the first to build a temple to the divinely inspired Polyeuktos; but she did not make it like this or so large, not from any thrift or lack of resources—for what can a queen lack?—(5) but because she had a divine premonition that she would leave a family which would know how to provide a better embellishment. From this stock Juliana, bright light of blessed parents, sharing their royal blood in the fourth generation, did not cheat the hopes of that queen, who was mother of the finest children, (10) but raised this building from its small original to its present size and form, increasing the glory of her many-sceptred ancestors.” The Church of the Holy Martyr Polyeuktos has it all… a 6th-century magnificent building, in ruins today, with intricate decoration, a documented 76-line poem in Greek Anthologia (AP 1.10), stories of greed and looting, excavations in the 1960s, extensive Bibliography from around the world and currently, an Archaeological Site, frequently overlooked(?)…https://chs.harvard.edu/CHS/article/display/3263.mary-whitby-the-st-polyeuktos-epigram-ap-1-10-a-literary-perspective     and     https://topostext.org/work/532

Empress Aelia Eudocia?, c. 907, coloured stone inlay on marble from Church of Lips Monastery, 66 by 28 cm, Archeological Museum, Istanbul     http://monasticmatrix.osu.edu/figurae/icon-saint-eudokia
Portrait of Anicia Juliana flanked by Megalopsychia and Phronesis, Vienna Dioscurides, Folio 6v, about 515 AD, Byzantine Greek Illuminated Manuscript of De Materia Medica by Pedanius Dioscurides, vellum folios measure 37 by 30 cm, Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, Vienna     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anicia_Juliana#/media/File:Wiener_Dioskurides_6v_(portrait_detail).jpg

Empress Eudocia, according to the poem, was the first to build a small Church dedicated to Polyeuktos and Anicia Juliana, great-granddaughter of Eudocia, was the family member “which would know how to provide a better embellishment.” What an interesting family affair! To further elaborate on the early history and topography of the Church… it was constructed between 524 and 527, on the northern branch of Constantinople’s Mese, between the Forum Tauri and the Church of the Holy Apostles, near the Column of Marcian and the Aqueduct of Valens, in near proximity to the Palace of Anicia Juliana.    https://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/polyeuktos     and     http://constantinople.ehw.gr/Forms/filePage.aspx?lemmaId=11784

Topographical map of Constantinople during the Byzantine period. The Green STAR marks the location of the Church of the Holy Martyr Polyeuktos.     https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Byzantine_Constantinople-en.png

An accidental discovery in the 1960s, led to excavations in the area Saraçhane of modern Istanbul… which brought to light the foundation of a monumental church while inscriptions on several of the unearthed sculptural blocks, in fact, they were magnificently decorated extracts of the donor’s inscription, allowed Cyril Mango and Ihor Ševčenko to identify the archaeological discovery as the Church of the Holy Martyr Polyeuktos. Excavations on the site of the Church lasted six seasons (1964-69) and it was a joined effort between the Istanbul Archaeological Museum (represented by Nezih Fıratlı) and Dumbarton Oaks, Centre for Byzantine Studies of Harvard University, under the directorship of Professor Martin Harrison.  Mango C., Ševčenko I., Remains of the church of St. Polyeuktos at Constantinople, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 15, 1961     https://www.jstor.org/stable/i255238     and     https://www.academia.edu/2122854/Martin_Harrisons_Excavations_in_Istanbul

In the background of this photograph taken in 1968, of the Archaeological Excavation of the Church of the Holy Martyr Polyeuktos is the famous “Aqueduct of Valens”, a bridge that carried water for the Byzantine and Ottoman city…    https://www.academia.edu/2122854/Martin_Harrisons_Excavations_in_Istanbul

At the time she commissioned the Church of St. Polyeuktos, Anicia Juliana, sharing …royal blood in the fourth generation,” was the noblest and the wealthiest woman in the Empire. She lived in a magnificent palace in the area of the Church and raised this building from its small original to its present size and form, increasing the glory of her many-sceptred ancestors.”At the entrance of the church, outside the narthex, archaeologists discovered five more inscribed plaques where we read… “What choir is sufficient to sing the contests of Juliana who, after Constantine, embellisher of his Rome, after the holy all-golden light of Theodosius, (45) and after royal descent from so many forebears, accomplished a work worthy of her family, and more than worthy     /     in a few years? She alone has overpowered time and surpassed the wisdom of the celebrated Solomon, raising a temple to receive God, the richly wrought and gracious splendour of which a great epoch cannot celebrate.”

There is no doubt Anicia Juliana was Emperor Justinian’s political and artistic, if I may add, adversary. Her dedicatory poem at the Church of the Holy Martyr Polyeuktos is a blunt challenge. Her Imperial lineage and wealth was a test to match for Justinian and his ambitions… According to Gregory of Tours, and well-recorded in Byzantine Legacy… “the Emperor Justinian requested the wealthy Juliana to make a contribution to the public treasury. She feigned to be willing to do so and invited the Emperor to visit her in her house after a given period of time during which she might be able to bring her treasure together. Meanwhile, she called in craftsmen, handed them all her gold and directed them to cast it into plaques which were to be affixed to the roof of Hagios Polyeuktos. After this had been done, Juliana invited the Emperor to come and, having taken him to the martyr’s church, pointed to its roof. My poverty is contained in this work. Do with it whatever you please…” she allegedly said, and thus avoided Justinian’s rapacity. What a story…     https://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/anicia-juliana     and     http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E00655     and     http://www.anastasiaashman.com/anastasiaashman/tag/Gregory+of+Tours

Reconstruction of the Church of the Holy Martyr Polyeuctus     https://dahabianalog.wordpress.com/2017/08/17/ayios-aziz-polyeuktos-kilisesi/

The Church of the Holy Martyr Polyeuktos was one of Constantinople’s most admired monuments for over five hundred years. “The church was certainly still in use in the 10th century, as it was one of the landmarks visited by the emperor during his Easter procession.” Then… we can only guess… the ornate Church of Anicia Juliana was gradually abandoned and valuable building materials were taken and used in the construction of other Constantinopolitan churches, such as the Pantokrator Monastery. In 1204 the Crusaders seized Constantinople and the Church, abandoned at the time, fell into ruins and many of its decorative architectural pieces were removed to Venice, Barcelona and Vienna.

After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, “houses and a mosque were built in the now completely flattened space of St Polyeuktos’ church. This occupation of the location lasted until 1940 when the mosque was demolished. In 1960, during construction works in the area, some parts of the architecture of St Polyeuktos were unearthed” and a new period for the history of the Church started as a significant Archaeological Site “both due to the wealth and variety of the findings, and the architectural type of the church discovered.” http://constantinople.ehw.gr/Forms/filePage.aspx?lemmaId=11784

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Church of the Holy Martyr Polyeuktos, Part II, Architecture and Interior Decoration will follow in January 2021…

The Church of the Holy Martyr Polyeuctus, built by Anicia Juliana in the 520s, on the northern branch of Constantinople’s Mese, between the Forum Tauri and the Church of the Holy Apostles, today in the Saraçhane area of Istanbul. Photo by Dick Osseman https://pbase.com/dosseman/polyeuktos