Friday, April 22, 2016

The Patriarchal Church of St George, Constantinople

Since the Fall of Constantinople (29th May 1453) the Ecumenical Patriarchate has moved a number of times. The current Patriarchal Church, the Church of St George the Great Martyr and Trophy Bearer is the fifth church in former Byzantine capital to house the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Formerly a convent for Orthodox nuns, it was converted to the patriarchal offices by Patriarch Matthew II (1598-1601).

Patriarch Timothy II refurbished the Church in 1614, whilst Patriarch Jeremiah III rebuilt it after a fire in 1720. It was repaired by 1836 by Patriarch Gregory VI and restored recently under Patriarch Bartholomew. The Church of St George is divided into vestibule, nave, and altar and retains the traditional basilica style with three aisles. The vestibule contains icons of St George and the Prophet Elijah, who is wearing fur in memory of the furrier merchants who brought a water system to the Phanar, the area of modern day Istanbul where the Patriarchate is located.

An impressive feature within this Church is the Iconostasis. The icon screen that separates the nave from the altar is an 18th century conglomeration of Byzantine, Renaissance, Baroque and Ottoman styles. Carved out of wood and recently gilded, the screen is divided into three levels. 

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