Parekklesion of St. Mary Pammakaristos

David Bergstein

I thought the most fascinating aspect of the last field trip was the visit to parekklesion of St. Mary Pammakaristos. This church was located in an area called Carshamba, and simply walking through this more conservative side of Istanbul was an interesting experience for me as an exchange student, having previously been exposed to only to the more cosmopolitan aspects of the city like Sultanahmet and Taksim. The church was built by the Palailogan Dynasty, specifically in the 14th century, making it one of the last signfiicant churches to be constructed in Constantinople before the fall of the city to the Ottomans in 1453. The ottomans eventually converted the church into a mosque, the Fetiye Camii. However, the Parakklesion of the church has been beautifully restored, and is a beautiful example of the cross in square church architecture that characterized Byzantine church construction during the late and middle Byzantine periods. In addition to the large central dome, the cross in square church plans have smaller domes in each of the corners of the “cross,” creating a powerful, opening effect. What was particularly striking to me about this church was the feeling of vertical lift achieved by the dome. The church itself is in a relatively small space, but the incredibly sharp angle of the lift opening creates a feeling of a much larger and more inspiring area. The church is also decorated with a multitude of beautiful mosaics, and I believe that the arraignment of mosaics is done in such a way as to create a hierarchy of images, with an image of the Jesus (the pantocrator) in the top of the dome, and various scenes of the saints and old testaments in the alcoves and niches surrounding it. The apse is similarly decorated with a tile mosaic of Jesus, again surrounded by other christian images. The final point of interest about this church was the dichotomy between the presence of the large mosque and the newly restored church, demonstrating the somewhat contrasting architectural and artisitc legacies of the city. We are fortunate that the plaster used to cover these images when the church was converted into a mosque did such a good job preserving them.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Cormack, R.. (2000) Byzantine Art. Oxford: Oxford UP.

“The Parajjkesuib if St. Mary Pammakaristos” http://www.byzantium1200.com/pamma.html

“The Fethiye Camii” Arch Net
http://www.archnet.org/library/sites/one-site.jsp?site_id=7171

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Published in: on January 8, 2010 at 17:28  Leave a Comment  

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