Thursday, October 22, 2015

Courtyard of the Baptistery, St Sophia – Constantinople

The Courtyard of the Baptistery, right next to St Sophia Church, has a square shape place, covered with a dome, an apse on the east and a porch on the west. Interestingly enough, some architectural remains in the courtyard indicate that it may possibly be older than Hagia Sophia Church.

The building was first used for lamp oil storage and then turned into a tomb with the death of Sultan Mustafa (1693). Sultan Ibrahim was also buried in this location in 1648. The baptistery basin was carved from marble and large jars for candle oil storage that were moved to the courtyard during the conversion of the baptistery into the Sultan’s tomb-mausoleum.

According to the 17th century Ottoman traveller Evliya Celebi, the baptistery basin was the largest in the City, by then renamed from Constantinople to Istanbul, being the capital of the Ottoman Empire. The sarcophagus located in the courtyard belonged to the Byzantine Emperors, between 5th-7th centuries AD. However, during this new period of Ottoman rule, it was re-used as a fountain.

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