Discoveries in Karaköy …
A friend inspired and encouraged me to look into the Russian Orthodox churches still existing in Istanbul. So I did a little bit of research, but could not find that much, except for the fact that there are three Russian churches in beloved Karaköy (only two of them still in use), somewhere under a roof. I decided to go on a little excursion in that area – and what an extraordinary experience and sense of discovery it was. I first had to spot the onion-shaped church towers on the roofs in order to locate the whereabouts of the houses that locate the churches on their top floors.
I then dived into side streets and opened doors to houses that seemed like old apartment buildings. One walks up the stairs to the top and suddenly finds oneself in a clerical environment of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The splendid Russian Orthodox rooms for worshipping are only rarely open to the public. Only the smaller church, in Hoca Tahsin Sokak no. 19, can be viewed. One goes up to the top floor, rings a bell and a church servant opens the door. And it is a rather extraordinary experience to enter a room like that having just walked up an ordinary apartment building.
And just around the corner from where the Russian churches are, is also the headquarter of the Autocephalous Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate, also referred to as the Turkish Orthodox Church. The church is an unrecognised Orthodox Christian denomination and was founded in 1922 in Kayseri, Anatolia. In 1924 the patriarchate moved to Istanbul and it was then that they started to conduct the liturgy in Turkish and quickly won support from the new Turkish Republic, officially proclaimed in 1923.
The church of the Virgin Mary (Meryem Ana) in Karaköy is now the headquarters of the Orthodox Turkish Church.
The main rooms of the church were not open to the public. I could only get a glimpse through the window which gives you at least a vague idea of the splendour inside.
And so it continues …