Vefa Church-Mosque

Vefa Church-Mosque (Turkish Vefa Kilise Camii or Molla Gürani Camii) was a Middle Byzantine church in Constantinople, north of the Valens of Aqueduct. It is a typical cross-in-square with a tripartite bema, a nine-bay naos with the central bay topped by an elegant dome, and a three-bay narthex. While it has traditionally been identified as the church of St. Theodore, its identity is uncertain. It seems that it was converted into a mosque by Sheikh al-Islam Mullah Gürani during the reign of Mehmet II or Beyazid II.
It probably dates to the 11th or 12th century.

Several additions were made in the Palaiologan era (perhaps in the 13th century), the most important of which was a five-bay outer narthex with three domes. A belfry, whose base survives, was added at the same period in the southwestern corner of the building. The two-story annex on the north side predates the construction of the exonarthex. A similar structure is found in the Monastery of Chora. Nineteenth-century drawings show that there was a chapel or a colonnaded portico, which has since disappeared, attached to the south of the church. It was accessed by a large tripartite opening, which is now blocked by masonry. The date of this structure is debated. 
The exonarthex preserves some of its original mosaic decoration (dating to the Palaiologan era). The apex of the southern dome has an image of the Theotokos and Christ child with eight ancestors of Christ in the flutes of the dome. Fragmentary mosaics were also found in the central dome. 


Photo by David Talbot-Rice 

From Birmingham East Mediterranean Archive

From Byzantine Studies by Paspates (1877)

Ebersolt & Thiers (1910)

Ebersolt & Thiers (1910)

From Pulgher (1880)


Gravestone of a Gepid King
6th century, marble

Reconstruction of Greek Inscription

Plan by Marinis

Map 2.jpg


Byzantine Architecture by Cyril Mango

Architecture and Ritual in the Churches of Constantinople: Ninth to Fifteenth Centuries by V. Marinis

Architecture in the Balkans: Ffrom Diocletian to Süleyman the Magnificent by Slobodan Ćurčić

Bildlexikon zur Topographie Istanbuls: Byzantion, Konstantinupolis, Istanbul by Wolfgang Müller-Wiener

The Byzantine Churches of Istanbul: A Photographic Survey by Thomas F. Mathews

La géographie ecclésiastique de l'Empire byzantin by R. Janin

Byzantine Churches in Constantinople: Their History and Architecture by Alexander Van Millingen

Converted Byzantine Churches in Istanbul: Their Transformation Into Mosques and Masjids by S. Kirimtayif

An Epitaph of a Gepid king at Vefa Kilise Camii in Istanbul by H. Çeti̇nkaya

Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium edited by Alexander P. Kazhdan


Vefa Church Mosque Album (Byzantine Legacy Flickr)

Vefa Kilise Camii (NYU Byzantine Churches of Istanbul)

Kilise Camii (Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection)

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Created by David Hendrix Copyright 2016