Hagia Irene - Ayia Irini, Istanbul
The Haghia Eirene or Hagia Irene (Aya İrini Kilisesi) is a former Orthodox church and the first church built in Constantinople. It is also the only church that was not turned into a mosque after the Ottomans conquered Istanbul in 1453. The Haghia Eirene served as the church of the Patriarchate before the Hagia Sophia was completed in 537. Just like all other monuments in Istanbul, it suffered damages and multiple metamorphoses.
Heavily damaged by an earthquake in the 8th century, it dates in its present form largely from the repairs made at that time. The Emperor Constantine V ordered the restorations and had its interior decorated with mosaics and frescoes. Hagia Irene is the only example of a Byzantine church in the city which retains its original atrium. A great cross in the half-dome above the main narthex, where the image of the Theotokos was usually placed in Byzantine tradition, is a unique vestige of the Iconoclastic art. The church was enlarged during the 11th and 12th centuries.
It is open as a museum every day except Monday, but requires special permission for admission. You have to be with a group of at least 10 people and you require special permission to be admitted. You can obtain this special permission from the Hagia Sophia directorate (Aya Sofya Müdürlüğü), who has his office right at the exit of the Hagia Sophia complex. Just ask the guard standing at the exit to guide you to the directorate’s manager.
As the "Hagia Irene" is located at the "Garden Courtyard of the Topkapi Palace", here you can read my "Topkapi Palace" Review ... :
Today, the museum serves mainly as a concert hall for classical music performances, due to its extraordinary acoustic characteristics and impressive atmosphere. Many of the concerts of the Istanbul International Music Festival have been held here every summer since 1980 ... :)
Hagia Eirene, the church of Divine Peace was first constructed by 'Constantine the Great' but it was destroyed by a fire during the Nika Revolt in 537. Emperor Justinian immediately rebuilt Hagia Eirene because together with Hagia Sophia, these two churches formed two essential religious establishments. This church is the first Byzantian Church in Istanbul and it was never converted to a mosque during the Ottoman Era.
Entering the church, one descends along a stone ramp to the level of the interior. At the end of the ramp, there is the rear of the church which gives the idea of a basilica, but an unusual type. The eastern dome is supported by four great arches. In this church, the plan is the transition of a pure domed basilica into a Greek-cross plan church. The apse is a semicircular semidomed above and there are seats for the clergy. In the semidome, there is an ancient mosaic of a simple cross in a black border.
At the west, a Turkish wooden staircase leads to the galleries. The galleries and the church was used as an arsenal during the Ottoman Era. Today, Hagia Eirene hosts Istanbul Art,Cultural and Music Festivals and Istanbul Biennials. It is open to public only in festival, concert and biennal times.
The church is located in the territory of Topkapi palace. It is a luck for it, as construction left untouched after building that palace (church is just inside the yard). It was used as Christian one as early as 540, when Justinian decided to built it.
Interior couldn’t be visited just like that, as place is prepared just for concerts or special events.
This church lies within the first courtyard that you come to after entering through the Imperial Gate. The building reputedly stands on the site of a pre-Christian temple. It ranks as the first church built in Constantinople. Roman emperor Constantine I commissioned the first Hagia Irene church in the 4th century. From May to July 381 the First Council of Constantinople took place in the church. It was burned down during the Nike revolt in 532 and Emperor Justinian I had the church restored in 548. It served as the church of the Patriarchate before Hagia Sophia was completed in 537. It was never destroyed by the conquering Ottomans and survived by being used as a storehouse and imperial armoury.
Its Greek name means Divine Peace and it is Istanbul's first church. It was originally built by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century AD on the site of a pagan temple, and served as the seat of the church until the Hagia Sophia was completed in 537 AD. It was damaged in 532 AD during the Nika Revolt that destroyed much of the city, but was immediately rebuilt by Emperor Justinian. An 8th century earthquake caused further damage and the subsequent restoration gave us the church we see today. After the Ottoman conquest of the city, Hagia Eirene was enclosed within the walls of the new Ottoman palace, Topkapı, and was remarkably not converted into a mosque. It owes its state of preservation to the fact that it was used as an arsenal until 1846, when it was converted into the first museum in Constantinople. Nowadays, it serves both as a museum and a concert hall, but when I visited in January 2010, Hagia Eirene was closed for restoration work.
Hagia Irene ("Holy Peace”) is a former Eastern Orthodox Church. It is located in the Topkapi First Courtyard. It is open as a museum every day except Monday but requires special permission for admission (unfortunately I didn’t visit it though wanted very much).
It ranks, in fact, as the first church built in Constantinople. Heavily damaged by an earthquake in the 8th century, it dates in its present form largely from the repairs made at that time.
The church was enlarged during the 11th and 12th centuries. It measures 100m x 32 m. The dome is 15m wide and 35m high and has twenty windows.
You can watch my 1 min 01 sec HQ Video Istanbul Topkapi Sarayi Aya Irini part V out of my Youtube channel with Greek Orthodox music.
This small church is located in the garden of Topkapi Palace. It is also the neighbor of Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia). There is a theory that it could be the oldest church of Istanbul, from Byzantion era. Its construction was in the first half of 4th century. It’d been built over some pagan temples.
It had been burnt in Nike Rebellion and reconstructed as Hagia Sophia during the Justinianus rule. Since it is inside the Palace walls, it hasn’t turned into a mosque during Ottoman Era. So, it is mostly unchanged now.
Because of its awesome acoustic, this place is used as a concert venue time to time. If you want to listen to a concert here, you should visit Istanbul during Music Festival.
This Aya Irini (Church of Divine Peace, "Hagia Eirene" in Ancient Greek) is one the oldest church in Istanbul. On this site there had been a pagan temple, and then there was a Christian church. In 540s, the former church was replaced by Justinian to the present one. After the conquest of Ottoman Turks, it has been used as an arsenal. So, this church remains untouched. Sadly, this church is always closed, and when there is a concert or something, it's open.
Aya Irini Kilisesi, or Church of the Divine Peace, dates back to the 540s during the reign of Justinian. It actually predates the Aya Sofya. Many of the old Byzantine emperors were buried in the walled courtyard behind. Significantly, when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, they did not make this church into a mosque. Rather, munitions were stored in the sanctuary. In time, the church came to be within the outer walls of Topkapi Palace.
The church is usually closed and only open for concerts. When I was there last, the church was open and being set up for a concert. So, we just walked on in and had a look around. None of the icons or artwork remains, but a beautiful cross is still visible above the nave.
Situated in the first court of Topkapi Palace, Hagia Eirene is one of the earliest Christian churches in Istanbul.
It was first constructed by Constantine the Great but it was destroyed by a fire during the Nika Revolt in 537.Emperor Justinian immediately rebuilt Hagia Eirene because together with Hagia Sophia, these two churches formed two essential religious establishments. Today the church is used for special exhibitions and occasional concerts.
ST. IRENE CHURCH is the 2nd largest church (after Hagia Sophia) & the only Byzantine church whose atrium has survived. It was built in the early 4th century but restored in 532 by Justinian. It has served as an Archaeological museum since 1846 & is used for classical music concerts today. This church can only be visited by permission & is located just next to the Topkapi Palace.