The Eyüp Sultan Mosque is located in the Eyüp district at the northern end of the Golden Horn. It is a particularly sacred place for Muslims and ranks fourth after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.

The mosque complex stands exactly at the spot where Ayyub al-Ansaris (Turkish Eyüp Ensari) is said to have been buried. He was a friend and companion of Prophet Muhammad and a highly respected member of the early Islamic leadership. According to a legend, he fell in front of the walls of Constantinople during the first unsuccessful siege of the city by Muslims, and his body was found shortly after the Ottoman conquest. Also the Byzantine residents of the city are said to have honored his tomb as a place of worship.

Fatih Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror built Eyüp a fitting, grand tomb and a mosque in which Ottoman princes were girded with the sword of Osman on their coronation ceremony. It symbolized their power and their powerful sultan title. The Ablution fountain in the courtyard (Turkish: Şadırvan) was built by the Grand Vizier Ibrahim Paşa. Since the two minarets were not high enough to attach traditional illumination to Ramadan, Sultan Ahmed II had them demolished in 1723 and built higher ones.

In 1766, the Eyüp Sultan Mosque was destroyed by a severe earthquake. In order to build a new mosque, Sultan Selim III completely demolished it except for the minarets in 1798. In 1800, the new mosque was opened. Chief architect was Uzun Hüseyin Ağa.

The major shopping street “Iskele Caddesi” across from the pier leads up to the mosque complex. The courtyard is behind a large gate on the forecourt. The mosque stands to the right of the gate and on the left is the Türbe, which is adorned with gold and silver as well as crystal chandeliers and patterned Iznik tiles.

Located in Balat near the Golden Horn, built by Jews of Ohri (Macedonia) more than 550 years ago and recently renovated during the Quincentennial Celebrations in 1992, the Ahrida Synagogue is known foremost by its boat-shaped bimah. It can only be visited during weekday mornings.

This cross-shaped basilica is like few others in the world. Born of an early 19th-century period of architectural experimentation in prefabrication, St. Stephen is made entirely out of cast iron. Even to this day, the walls are metal and spots of rust bloom from its interior archways like scarified flowers. The church consists of poured iron slabs that were floated on cargo ships from Vienna, down the Danube River, across the Black Sea, through the Bosphorus, only to then be assembled on-site.

According to a popular tale, Sultan Abdülaziz was disinclined to allow the city’s Bulgarian Orthodox minority to build its church. “Permitting” its construction in a fashion he surely thought foolproof, the sultan stipulated St. Stephen must be completed within a single month’s time. But, like so many fantastic stories, the tale of the sultan’s challenge and the Bulgarian triumph isn’t quite true.

The story of St. Stephen’s Church began with the Bulgarian government funding a competition to design the church, which was won by Armenian architect Hovsep Aznavur. The government then began the process of awarding a bid for the casting of Aznavur’s molds, ultimately achieved by the Rudolph Philip Waagner Company, which succeeded in transporting all 500 tons of the disassembled church to its current location in Istanbul’s Fatih district.

Though the church was assembled remarkably quickly even by modern standards, it still would not have met the sultan’s demands.

The only remaining original feature from the wooden church that predated the Iron Church is its stone altar, still in use to this day. Inaugurated on September 8, 1898, one of the world’s few full-metal churches has remained in constant use ever since.

Visitors to St. Stephens remain entranced by the trails of rust creeping above an opulent Orthodox nave, speaking to its long journey by boat, only to arrive at the water’s edge all along.

The Church of Panagia Blachernai was a Byzantine church famous for its holy spring (hagiasma). It was located in the northwestern corner of Constantinople north of the Palace of Blachernai, near the Wall of Heraclius and the Golden Horn. Starting in the Early Byzantine Era, there were three important churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary Theotokos in Constantinople: the churches of Hodegon, Blachernai, and Chalkoprateia. These churches were part of the growing emphasis on the cult of the Virgin Mary, which was connected to an effort to gather her relics in the capital. As an important church and pilgrim shrine dedicate to the Theotokos, many legends and traditions developed around it. These churches were part of the growing emphasis on the cult of the Virgin Mary, which was connected to an effort to gather her relics in the capital. As an important church and pilgrim shrine dedicate to the Theotokos, many legends and traditions developed around the church.

Modern Church of Blachernai

Remains of Terrace Walls of the Palace Blachernai located south of the church

Hagiasma

Byzantine capitals from church courtyard