The Byzantine legacy in Turkey
The Orthodox Easter is knocking on Europe’s door, so it might be a good time to celebrate the vastly unknown wonders of “the other” original Christian Church. The Byzantine legacy in Turkey makes for a very interesting case study.
Today, Istanbul is the capital city of a Muslim Turkey. But centuries ago, it was named Constantinople and it was the capital of the famous Byzantium, one of the greatest centers in the world back then.
Even though Christianity is virtually non-existent in Turkey today, the old legacy of the Byzantine age still lives in the buildings and sites dating back to those days.
In Istanbul, for instance, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Istanbul is widely recognized as the center of the Greek Orthodox Church. The Fener Patriarchate is open to visitors and exhibits a series of relics and religious artifacts, most of them dedicated to Saint George.
One of the most exquisite remains of the Greek Palaelogos Dynasty is the outstanding 4th-century Church of St. Savior in Chora. The outside looks stony and minimalistic, but the inside is covered in rich marble and intricate beautiful mosaics.
As for Hagia Sophia, before it became an Islamic Mosque and then a museum, it was originally built as a 360 Christian Church.
Moreover, the old city of Antioch is located in today’s Turkey. It was one of the greatest centers of paleo-Christianity. The oldest church in the world according to many, the Church of Saint Peter (created by the Saint) is also located here.
Tur Abdin is another old center of the Syriac Orthodox Christian Church. What is most admirable is the respect that the Turkish government has for the Christian sites and their emphasis on religious tourism and pilgrimages. With an Istanbul Ataturk Airport transfer you can explore Turkey and all its cultural influences.