Hagia Irene or Hagia Eirene (Greek: Αγία Ειρήνη "Holy Peace", Turkish: "Aya İrini") is a former
Eastern Orthodoxchurch located in the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palacein Istanbul, Turkey. It is open as a museum every day except Monday, but requires special permission for admission.
The building reputedly stands on the site of a
pre-Christiantemple. It ranks, in fact, as the first church built in Constantinople. Roman emperor Constantine I commissioned the Hagia Irene church in the 4th century. It was burned down during the Nike revoltin 532. Emperor Justinian Ihad the church restored in 548. It served as the church of the Patriarchate before Hagia Sophiawas completed in 537.
Heavily damaged by an earthquake in the 8th century, it dates in its present form largely from the repairs made at that time. The Emperor
Constantine Vordered the restorations and had its interior decorated with mosaics and frescoes. Hagia Irene is the only example of a Byzantine church in the city which retains its original atrium. A great crossin the half-dome above the main narthex, where the image of the Theotokoswas usually placed in Byzantine tradition, is a unique vestige of the Iconoclastic art. The church was enlarged during the 11th and 12th centuries.
The church measures 100m x 32 m. It has the typical form of a Roman
basilica, consisting of a naveand two aisles, divided by columns and pillars. It comprises a main space, a narthex, galleries and an atrium. The dome is 15m wide and 35m high and has twenty windows.
After the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 by
Mehmed II, the church was enclosed inside the Sultan's Walls. The Janissaries (Ottoman soldiers) used the church as an armoury. It was also used as a warehouse for war booty. During the reign of Sultan Ahmet III(1703-1730) it was converted into a weapon museum.
It was repaired by
Field Marshall Ahmed Fethi Paşain 1846 and became the first Turkish museum. It was used as the Military Museum from 1908 until 1978 when it was turned over to the Turkish Ministry of Culture.
Today, the museum serves mainly as a
concert hallfor classical musicperformances, due to its extraordinary acoustic characteristics and impressive atmosphere. Most of the concerts of the Istanbul International Music Festivalhave been held here every summer since 1980.
In 2000, the Turkish
haute couturedesigner Faruk Saraçproduced a special show here. A collection of 700 designed pieces inspired by the Ottoman sultans, including the robes of 36 sultans ranging from Osman Gazi, the founder of the Ottoman Empireto Sultan Vahdettin, the last sultan, were on display. The show was accompanied by music and the story of the sultans' lives and demonstrations of Ottoman-era dancing.
*Akşit I., "Hagia Sophia";Akşit Kültür ve Turizm Yayincilik, 2005, ISBN 975-7039-07-1
*Alexander Kazhdan (ed.), The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, 3 vols., Oxford University Press, 1991 (ISBN 0195046528), s. v. Irene, Church of Saint, vol. 2, 1008-1009
*cite book|last=Krautheimer|first=Richard|year=1984|title=Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture|publisher=Yale University Press|location=New Haven, CT|id= ISBN 978-0300052947
*cite book | title=Architecture, ceremonial, and power: The Topkapi Palace in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries| last=Necipoğlu| first=Gülru| year=1991| pages= 336 pages| publisher=The MIT Press| location=Cambridge, Massachusetts| id=ISBN 0-262-14050-0
* Fanny Davis. "Palace of Topkapi in Istanbul". 1970. ASIN B000NP64Z2
* [http://www.byzantium1200.com/eirene.html Byzantium 1200 | Hagia Eirene]
* [http://www.pointsfromturkey.com/hagia_irini.html Hagia Irini church]
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