Photographing the Hagia Irene

This must be the most beautiful tree in all of Istanbul.

The other day I returned to the Hagia Irene so that I could see it in the daylight. The last time I was there was in the evening and the entire place was lite up with artificial lighting. I had hoped that the renovations were complete so that I could see the ceiling but as you can see from the photographs, the renovations are ongoing. Still, it was worth seeing it again. You can read more about it in my previous post.

View of the Hagia Irene from within the Topkapi grounds.
A view of the stairs leading up to the top level which is closed off to the public.
I am in love with these honeycomb stone tiles. The way they have faded and chipped make them even more beautiful.
A view of the synthronons – the rows of built-in benches that are arranged in a semicircle in the apse. During Divine Liturgy, this is where the clergy would sit. This one in the Hagia Irene is the only one that has survived in the city from the Byzantine era.

View of the exterior of the Hagia Irene with the Hagia Sophia in the background.
The Hagia Irene

Always with love,



9 thoughts on “Photographing the Hagia Irene

  1. I found your photos a couple of nights ago via Flickr on some or another particular group — I don’t remember which — and explored church images you’d made. I was surprised to see that they were made in Istanbul, so I made my way to your blog and saw and read. Suddenly I’m interested in Istanbul.

    I know very little about Turkey. What I do know comes from James Bond and “Midnight Express” and the Turkish math professor that my dad hired to tutor my in geometry, trig and calculus. Some of my preconceptions are being blown, the major one being: There are churches. Sure, everyone knows Hagia Sophia — Holy Wisdom. And some know that the Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate still hangs on there. But who knows about Hagia Irene — Holy Peace? Or St. Mary of the Mongols? And I’m sure there must be more and I hope you will find them. I have a long love of the Byzantines and their churches and their art (among other things). I also have discovered that Istanbul is more Greek than I realized.

    So for the nonce I intend to enjoy your writing and your photos and learn more about this crossroads of the world that it seems I have wrongly stereotyped. I’ll wave as I fly over in May, on the way to and from Tanzania via the New Istanbul Airport — unfortunately the closest my wife and I will get to the city. Perhaps at least we’ll be low enough, and the weather will be clear enough, that we’ll see a few famous domes and minarets.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you John for your thoughtful comment. Istanbul is a city of contrasts and layers that not only challenges my perception of the city but also asks me to re-imagine it. Constantinople won’t let go, leaving Istanbul to define itself around it. Shame that you and your wife will not have time to explore this wonderful city. It’s definitely worth a visit. 😊


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