Church of Christ Pantepoptes

September 19, 2009 22:00 by haci

Eski Imaret Mosque (Turkish: Eski Imaret Camii) is a former Eastern Orthodox church converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. The church was dedicated to Christ Pantepoptes (Greek: Eκκλησία του Χριστού Παντεπόπτη), meaning "Christ the all-seeing".[1] It is the only documented 11th century church in Istanbul which survives intact, and represents a key monument of middle Byzantine architecture. Despite that, the building remains one among the least studied of the city.

The building lies in Istanbul, in the district of Fatih, in the neighbourhood of Zeyrek, one of the poorest areas of the walled city. It is located less than one kilometer to the northwest of the complex of Zeyrek.

[edit] History
Some time before 1087, Anna Dalassena, mother of Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus, built on the top of the fourth hill of Constantinople a nunnery, dedicated to Christos Pantepoptes, where she retired at the end of her life, following Imperial custom.[2] The convent comprised a main church, also dedicated to the Pantepoptes.

On April 12, 1204, during the siege of Constantinople, Emperor Alexios V Doukas Mourtzouphlos set his headquarter near the Monastery. From this vantage point he could see the Venetian fleet under command of Doge Enrico Dandolo deploying between the monastery of the Euergetes and the church of St. Mary of the Blachernae before attacking the city.[3] After the successful attack he took flight abandonig his purple tent on the spot, and so allowing Baldwin of Flanders to spend his victory night inside it.[3] The complex was sacked by the crusaders, and afterwards it was assigned to Benedictine monks. During the Latin occupation of Constantinople (1204–1261) the building became a Roman Catholic church.

Immediately after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the church became a mosque, while the buildings of the monastery were used as zaviye,[4] medrese and imaret for the nearby Mosque of Fatih, which was then under construction.[5] The Turkish name of the mosque ("the mosque of the old soup kitchen") refers to this.

The complex was ravaged several times by fire, and the last remains of the monastery disappeared about one century ago.[2] Until 1970 the building was used as a koran school, and that use rendered it almost inaccessible for architectural study. In 1970, the mosque was partially closed off and restored by the Turkish architect Fikret Çuhadaroglu. Despite that, the building appears to be in rather poor condition.