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Boğdan Palace

Boğdan Sarayı (“Moldavian Palace”) is located around 300 m southeast of Chora in the northwestern corner of the city in Dervişali/Fatih. The ruins, apparently belonging to a chapel, are in the vicinity of several other unidentified Byzantine monuments, including the nearby Kefeli Mescidi. It is now on the grounds of Draman Park.

The building, which measured 8.80 x 3.70 m, was a two-storied, single-aisled structure oriented to the north. It has masonry with broad alternating bands of ashlar and brick, which - along with its multifaceted apse - is typical of Palaiologan construction. The building also resembled the parekklesia of Chora and Pammakaristos, suggesting it dates to the beginning of the 14th century. The lower story, which was apparently a crypt, had a barrel vault. An unpublished German excavation during World War I discovered three sarcophagi under the lower level’s floor, indicating it functioned as a funerary chapel.

Remains of its frescoes were recorded as surviving around the turn of the 20th century when the building was still relatively intact. Its shallow dome documented in early photographs was reportedly a later modification, suggesting it originally had a wooden roof. It is also possible that it originally had a dome, similar to the parekklesia of Chora and Pammakaristos. The remains of walls on its southern side indicate it was connected to a larger complex.

Apse of Boğdan Sarayı

Apse of Boğdan Sarayı

Young bulls for the Eid (Kurban Bayramı) Sacrifice in 2015

Apse of Boğdan Sarayı and dome of Chora

Surviving masonry: alternating bands of ashlar and brick, with each band consisting of four rows of cut stones or brick.


The remains of Boğdan Sarayı are in the area of several Byzantine structures with uncertain identifications, including Odalar Camii, Kefeli Mescidi, and Kasım Ağa Mescidi. It has been argued that they were in the Byzantine quarter of Petra (“Rock”), which was later called Kesmekaya (“Cut Rock”) in the Ottoman era. While it has been argued Boğdan Sarayı was part of the monastery of St. John the Baptist in Petra, it is more likely that this monastery was centered on Odalar Camii to the south.

During the early 16th century, it was a chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas connected to the embassy of Moldavian hospodars to the Sublime Porte. Its use by the envoy (capuchehaia) of the semi-autonomous principality of Moldavia is the source of its name Boğdan Sarayı (“Moldavian Palace”). Two different accounts tell the origins of this Moldavian residence. According to one source, Teutal Longophetes supposedly built the Moldavian residence in the early 16th century, after Moldavia submitted to Suleiman the Magnificent at Buda in 1516. Another account says it was the house of a certain Raoul (a prominent Byzantine family), who sold it to Michael Kantakuzenos after he emigrated to Russia in 1518. The wealthy Kantakuzenos subsequently gave it to the Moldavian envoy. This region, which was in the vicinity of the Patriarchate at Pammakaristos, was primarily populated by Christians until the 17th century. It was also in the vicinity of the embassies of the principalities of Wallachia and Transylvania.

In 1578, Stephan Gerlach, chaplain for the Hapsburg ambassador Ungnad, visited the “House of Raoul” – another likely reference to this Moldavian residence. The residence was temporarily used as a residence by Swedish envoys led by Paul Strassburg in 1634 and by Claes Rålamb in 1657/58. It was also used by the Polish envoy in 1643. Emeric Thököly, former prince of Transylvania, resided there in 1695.  The residence was later donated by the principality of Moldavia. According to one account, John Kallimaches donated the residence to the Russian monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos in 1760. Another account says Peter the Lame donated it to the Patriarchate in 1780.

After it was devastated by a fire in 1784, the residence was abandoned, while the chapel gradually fell into ruin and the site functioned as a garden. Boğdan Sarayı was functioning as a cowshed when it was documented around the turn of the 20th century. In 1918, Germans excavated the lower floor, discovering an inscription and three sarcophagi (though the findings were not recorded). The upper story was completely demolished in the 1930s, while a roof was added to the lower story when it was used as house in the 1950s. During this period, the site became a gecekondu (shanty) area. Until recently, it was used to store tires for a service shop. It is now on the grounds of a park.

Boğdan Sarayı and Draman Park

Lithograph by Galanakis

From Paspates (1877)

Photo of Boğdan Sarayı (1903)

From SALT Research

Photo by Artamonoff (1938)

From the Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection 

The Church of the Holy Wisdom at Lower Kingswood in Surrey has a capital with a monogram apparently taken from Boğdan Sarayı

Monogram of Helena (Ἑλένης)

C. G. Curtis, the Chaplain of Crimean Memorial Church, suggested Boğdan Sarayı was the Church of Saints Nicholas and Augustine of Canterbury, founded in the 11th century by an Anglo-Saxon noble who fled to Constantinople after the Norman conquest of England. Tombstones of Anglo-Saxon members of the Varangian Guard were supposed found on site as well.

Pervititch. Plan d’assurances. Balat. Fetiye. Kesmekaya (1929)

From Salt Research

Plan after Van Millingen

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