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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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Church of St. Anthony of Padua (İstanbul)

İstiklal Caddesi No: 171 34433 İstanbul, Turkey

WEB SITE (in Turkish)


Facing Istiklal Caddesi in Taksim, one of the busiest streets in Istanbul, the church calls attention of any passer-by. The present church was built by the architects Giuliu Mongeri and Edoardo De Nari in Italian Neo-Gothic style. There are mosaic panels above three entrances portraying St. Antonio with Mary, Child Jesus and St. Francesco. The church has the plan of a Latin cross and about 20x50 meters in size. Diagonal vaults cover three naves.. There is the statue of Jesus on the cross by Italian sculptor Luigi Bresciani who also made a gilded wooden statue of St. Anthony holding child Jesus . The two mosaic panels in the side apses depict baptism and last supper.
The presence of the Franciscans in Constantinople goes back to early 13th century. The capital city of the Byzantine Empire was also the center for Orthodoxy but being the capital of an empire, the city was a commercial hub for trade dominated by Italian traders. Therefore there was a considerable population of Catholics. The time that the Franciscans established in the city coincides with the Latin Occupation, which is also called the 4th Crusade when Catholic forces sacked the city and established a Latin state that was to be survived until 1261 when Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII recaptured the city. They remained in the city after the Turkish conquest. On the occasion of the construction of a new road, earlier church that was built in 1724 was demolished in 1904 and the present church was built between 1906 and 1911.
İstanbul is one of the most crowded cities in the world but it still has some central attraction points among which İstitklal Caddesi (Taksim) where the church is located, is one of the leading one. It provides local people (and the tourists) in an predominantly Islamic country a chance to see a different faith from various points of view including architecture, rituals etc. It is not surprising to see locals (not only Christians) participate in ceremonies (especially Christmas Mass) to observe the rite as well as to make some wishes. Four Sunday masses in the church are in English, Italian, Polish and Turkish respectively, and weekday masses in English and in Turkish.
Faiths of the others have been a taboo for ages as well as the buildings dedicated to them and it is still a taboo for the masses. It is a clear sign of what is being afraid of, especially from the religious duties point of view. But it is of vital importance to see how “the others” worship. For the curious local people it may be an interesting experience to see how the Catholics worship. It is also interesting to see the architectural reflection of a faith. While the church itself becomes a place to worship for local Catholics, it may be considered as the symbol of co-existence of a different faith from predominant local one.
The didactical relevance and the proposed way to use with the students:
- Direct visit
A direct visit, if possible, would be the best way for students to experience the atmosphere of the place.
- Virtual visit (specify how)
A PPT presentation prepared by the tutor enriched with visuals.
- Classroom activity (pre- and post- visit)
Pre-visit activity: Students should be asked to search for who St. Anthony of Padua was and why there is a church dedicated to him in Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire when it was built.
They can also be asked to check if there was any mosque or any other sanctuary of another faith was built (or existed) in their capital city at the early 20th century.
Discussion on the style of the church.
Discussion on the location of the church.
Discussion on if a visit to a sanctuary of another faith helps in understanding it?

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    This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.