The Kalenderhane Mosque is located on 16th March Martyrs Street near the Girl’s Dormitory in Vezneciler, Istanbul. The magnificent structure was originally an Orthodox Eastern Church known as Theotokos Kyriottissa, meaning the mother of God and symbolizing the Virgin Mary.
It is believed to have been built between the 9th and 12th centuries. Initially, a Rome Bath was found on the site, but it was later demolished. During the Latin Invasion, the Catholic Crusaders seized the church and inscribed the name of Saint Francesco, the founder of the Franciscan religion sect, on the walls. The first frescoes were also created in honor of him.
Today, these fascinating frescoes can be viewed at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. At one point, the church was surrounded by monastery buildings, but they have since been damaged and no longer stand. Visitors can still see the remains of these monasteries around the church.
After the conquest of Istanbul, the charming basilica was converted into a mosque by Aga of Babüssaade (Palace) Maktul Besir, at the order of Ottoman Sultan Fatih Mehmet, the conqueror. The mosque was then allocated for dervishes who were members of the Kalender religious order, and thus it was named the Kalenderhane Mosque.
In the 19th century, the mosque was damaged in a fire, with the naves, the saloon on narthex, and marble facings, mihrab, and mimbar all suffering harm. It was repaired in 1854. In 1930, the mosque was damaged again by a lighting strike and its minaret collapsed.
Until 1965, the mosque was used as a home for the homeless and destitute. Finally, between 1966 and 1975, as a result of searches and excavations organized by Istanbul and Harvard University, the Kalenderhane Mosque was highly renovated and opened for worship again.
The Kalenderhane Mosque reflects the Byzantine period in its architecture. The dome, which is shaped like a Greek cross, has a high arch, a small diameter, and windows that create a fascinating atmosphere. The corners of the dome also feature pendants.
Inside, the narthex is covered with vaults, and the center of the primary construction is covered by a pendant dome. The main dome of the mosque is supported by a barrel vault, making the ceiling structure visible. The walls of the mosque are made of both bricks and stones. The inner walls are adorned with beautiful colored marble panels and reliefs. The mosque is currently open for prayer and for domestic and foreign visitors to tour.
Visiting the Kalenderhane Camii is a must for anyone interested in the rich history and architecture of Istanbul. The mosque’s origins as an Orthodox Eastern Church and its transformation into a mosque by the Ottoman conqueror, Sultan Fatih Mehmet, offer a unique perspective on the religious and cultural influences that have shaped the city over time.
The impressive frescoes and marble facings, as well as the remains of the surrounding monasteries, provide visitors with a glimpse into the artistic and architectural achievements of the past. The mosque’s unique blend of Byzantine and Ottoman architectural styles also make it a fascinating destination for architecture enthusiasts.
Furthermore, the Kalenderhane Mosque offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere, making it an ideal spot for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and reflect on the history and beauty that surrounds them.
If you’re planning to visit Istanbul, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Kalenderhane Mosque and other amazing historical sites by joining one of Tour Maker Turkey’s tours. Contact us today to book your tour and discover the best that Istanbul has to offer.