Aerial View of the Church of the Pantocrator

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Quick Facts on the Church of the Pantocrator

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Church of the Pantocrator Church of the Pantocrator, Istanbul
Istanbul, Marmara Region
Istanbul  locality
Turkey  country
Middle East  continent
Main date(s)
c. 1120
41.019773° N, 28.957177° E
Opening hours
Open at prayer times only

Historical Timeline of the Church of the Pantocrator

Description of the Church of the Pantocrator

The Church of the Pantocrator is actually a composite of two churches and a chapel; together, they form the second largest church in Istanbul after the Hagia Sophia. Dedicated to St. Saviour Pantocrator, the monastery was founded by Empress Eirene, who completed the south church prior to her death in 1124. She was the first to be buried here (her sarcophagus is now in the exonarthex of the Hagia Sophia).

The northern church was added by Eirene's husband, Emperor John II Comnenus, after her death. He dedicated his church to the Virgin Eleousa (Merciful or Charitable). The emperor also connected the two churches by squeezing a chapel between them, which required the demolition of part of their exterior walls.

Some of the original decoration survives inside, including the marble pavement, door frames in the narthex, and the marble apse. Restoration is ongoing. The 15th-century minbar (pulpit) is composed of recycled fragments of Byzantine sculpture.

Holly Hayes
October 27, 2011

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