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toklu-ibrahim-dede-st-thekla-21

There is a wall inside the construction site for whatever the Belediye is doing to Ivaz Efendi Camii and the towers behind it (41.039432,28.941786). This may be the remains of the Church of St Thecla, converted into a mosque from the Byzantine building. Another candidate for the site of this church is the defunct Toklu Ibrahim Dede Mescidi, the site of which is in a housing estate under construction near Ayvansaray Gate. However, the Church of St Thecla stood within the Palace of Blachernae. Firm evidence for the location of the church will probably never be found, but this Byzantine wall appears to be in the right place. Van Millingen provides an exhaustive summary of the arguments up to 1912.

Toklu Ibrahim Mescidi in the 1950s (from Matthews)

Toklu Ibrahim Mescidi in the 1950s (from Matthews)

There is a tenuous argument that Toklu sounds like Thecla so the mescid that once stood in Ayvansaray must have been the remains of the Church of St Thecla. This will only convince you if you want to be convinced of it. A look at Van Millingen’s pictures from around 1912 will show how much of Toklu Dede stood in the early twentieth century. Any remains are now beneath other buildings. This site shows the disappearance of the remaining wall in and around 2012.

Three scenes from about 1936.

Three scenes from about 1936.

Column capital from Toklu Ibrahim Mescidi, Archaeological Museum of Istanbul

Column capital from Toklu Ibrahim Mescidi, Archaeological Museum of Istanbul

I could only take the picture by poking a small camera through a hole in a steel fence and hoping for the best. While I was doing this, a nice turbaned man with three ladies swathed in black (his wife and his sisters) arrived and asked for an explanation of what I was doing. They seemed very interested but their faith in my sanity was damaged when they later saw me photographing an exposed bit of foundation near Eğri Kapı. The exchange went like this:

Man: What’s this?

Me: I don’t know.

Man: Why are you taking photographs of it?

Me: I might find out what it is later.

He walked away smiling and shaking his head. Shortly afterwards, I heard the tinkling of veiled female laughter.

In 2014, the Byzantine structure in the photograph below was visible. It was uncovered during municipal clearing of illegal housing. It is now inaccessible again and guarded by dogs that seem prepared to back up their threats. It lies below the nicely reconstructed Buharlı Emir Tekkesi which is immediately across the road from the ruins usually associated with the Church of St Thecla. Minimal information is here.

A bit of Blachernae Palace. Another candidate for the Church of St Thecla?

A bit of Blachernae Palace. Another candidate for the Church of St Thecla?

Part of Blachernae Palace in the grounds of Ebuzer Ğıfârî Camii.

Part of Blachernae Palace in the grounds of Ebuzer Ğıfârî Camii.

Byzantine stonework in the reconstruction site

Byzantine stonework in the reconstruction site of Ivaz Efendi Camii.

Fatih Haber (2014) Tamamı SIT Alanı Fatih Böyle Dönüşüyor.  Available online at: http://www.fatihhaber.com/yazdir.php?id=701&t=H Accessed 8th Jul 2016

Mathews, T. (2001) The Byzantine Churches of Istanbul. Available online at: http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/fineart/html/Byzantine/ # Accessed 8th Jul 2016

van Millingen, A. (1912) Byzantine Churches in Constantinople: Their history and architecture. pages 207-211 Available online at: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29077/29077-h/29077-h.htm#Page_207 Accessed 8th Jul 2016

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