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Istanbul. Between Cross and Crescent Moon

Sezione 1
Sezione 2

Hagia Irene

Irene of Athens. 800 AD


One of the first Christian churches

built by the Byzantines, is the Hagia Irene.
It was founded in the Constantinian era and was the very first church built in Constantinople. Completely rebuilt by Emperor Justinian after the fire set during the infamous Nika revolt a couple of centuries ago, it has the appearance of a basilica with a dome, so much so that it represents a mixture of a basilica plan and a Greek cross plan.
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The mosaic in the apse cellar depicts a large cross resting on a pedestal, which was commissioned by Leo III and his son Constantine V, when they decided to restore the church after the severe earthquake of forty years earlier, in 740. The works for its construction began more than two hundred years ago, laying the foundations on another basilica:

the one requested by Theodosius II. St. Irene remains one of the best examples of icon decoration and, personally, one of the places I have felt most connected to, here in Constantinople. I want to remind you that I am the most powerful woman in the History of the Byzantine Empire and I am a self-proclaimed "Emperor of the Romans".

Yes, you read that correctly; in the masculine, not the feminine. I had become a basileus. Imagine Pope Leo III's reaction when he heard about this?
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Sezione 3

Go back to this place


Hagia Irene

Irene of Athens. 800 AD

Go on to the next place


Mohammed II "the Conqueror". 1460

Leander's Tower

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