Zeyrek is the district on the western side of Atatürk Bulvarı which is dominated by the vast Church of the Pantocrator (Zeyrek Cami). Until recently it was fairly run-down but gentrification has been proceeding rapidly as many of its old wooden houses are restored.

Around Zeyrek

Zeyrek Cami started life as the Church of the Pantocrator in the early 12th century. It stands in a small square and backs onto a bluff offering a magnificent view towards the Golden Horn. Until recently it was in an advanced state of dereliction. All that is about to change, though, as the entire complex of two churches and a chapel is currently undergoing restoration. Once the covers come off, the church-mosque is likely to atttract far more visitors.

The complex actually consists of two separate churches linked by a memorial chapel to the Komneni family. It was once the centre of a large complex incorporating two hospitals and a retirement home but these ancillary buildings no longer survive. Only what John Freely identified as a possible library or funerary chapel survives in the form of the so-called Şeyh Şuleyman Mescid.

The northerly church, dedicated to the Virgin Elousa,  was commissioned by the Empress Eirene, while the southerly one, dedicated to St Saviour Pantokrator, was commissioned by the Emperor John II Komnenos. They both appear to have been built between 1120 and 1136.

Many of the great monastery's treasures were stolen during the Latin Interregnum following the Fourth Crusade of 1204, and the part of the Pala d'Oro in Venice's St Mark's Basilica is believed to have come from here. Today there's little to suggest what must have been considerable internal spendour aside from a fine opus sectile (mosaic) floor uncovered in the 1950s, then recovered with shabby carpet to protect it. 

To find the complex walk up Atatürk Bulvarı towards the Aqueduct of Valens and then turn right beside the Zeyrek Sarnıçı, a brick-built cistern currently under restoration.

In the Zeyrek back streets lurks the small 11th-century Church of St Savior Pantepotes (Christ the All Seeing) which was used as a soup kitchen during the years when Fatih Cami was being built, hence its name, the Eski İmaret Cami (the Old Soup Kitchen Mosque).

Transport info

Catch any bus from Eminönü to Fatih via Atatürk Bulvarı and get off halfway up the hill. 

Nearby areas

Atatürk Bulvarı









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