The Churches of Constantinople
Constantinople - now known as Istanbul - has changed significantly since it fell to the Ottomans in 1453. Domed mosques with minarets are now integral to its skyline, which now increasingly has skyscrapers as well. Underneath it all, though, the Byzantine influence can still be strongly fell. While Ottoman architects like Mimar Sinan had their own style, at the core is the Byzantine dome. This can perhaps best be seen in the Byzantine churches of Constantinople, scattered across the old city. Hagia Sophia, the most famous building, of course was a church for almost a thousand years. It is in no way the only remaining church from the Byzantine Era. Of the dozens of Byzantine churches remaining, most were converted into mosques, meaning their original art and decoration has been lost or significantly altered. In fact, the only one that was not converted into a mosque is the Church of Theotokos Mouchliotissa. Hagia Eirene is the only Byzantine church which was taken from the Orthodox Church, but not used as a mosque. In addition, there are three churches which allow us to understand how the other former churches once appeared: Hagia Sophia, Chora Museum and Pammakaristos (Fethiye Mosque). There are several other noteworthy churches, including the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, Atik Mustafa Pasa Mosque and Theotokos Kyriotissa. We can also look to other cities, such as Thessaloniki, Ravenna and even Venice to understand how these former churches once appeared. In addition, there are several Byzantine churches in the hinterland of Constantinople including several monastery caves - and there are other pre-Ottoman churches in Galata as well.