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Church of Hagios Theodoros in Karbounaria




Vefa Mosque / Molla Gürani Mosque
Tirendaz Sokak, Molla Şemsettin Cami Sokak & Divan Efendi Sokak, Vefa
Church proper – 11th or 12th century; exonarthex – 13th or 14th century

This church, located in the Byzantine neighbourhood named after the coal market (karbounaria), is traditionally identified as the Church of Hagios Theodoros. It is a typical middle-Byzantine church. It has a cross-in-square plan. Its masonry shows the use of the recessed-brick technique. The exterior has occasional decorative motifs, such as snake patterns. The apse is interrupted by windows and niches.


Several structures were added to the church in the Palaiologan era. The most important of them was the five-bay exonarthex. It has a bipartite façade. The lower part has triple arcades (originally open), while on the upper part there are windows framed by large semicircular blind arcades. The masonry consists of alternating courses of red bricks and white stones, especially remarkable on the north façade.


The exonarthex has three domes. All of these were originally covered with mosaics, traces of which survive. The best preserved is the image of the Theotokos with Child Christ surrounded by eight prophets on one of the domes. The exonarthex is further decorated with columns, capitals, and closure slabs – all reused material from the Early Byzantine period.




To the south-west corner of the church a belfry was added at the same time with the exonarthex. Similarly to the Chora Church, a two-storey annex on the north side can be found. Remains of underground cisterns have also been found under the south and west sides of the church, hinting to the existence of a monastery in the Byzantine period.

See:: grandeflanerie

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