How Istanbul’s Historical Churches Celebrate Christmas

Istanbul is home to over 200 active churches according to a 2000 census, and this holiday season they are celebrating Christmas with the traditional carols, midnight mass and services through the holiday weekend. Let’s take a look at some of the most impressive churches celebrating Christmas in Istanbul.

Hagia Triada Church
This is the largest Greek Orthodox Shrine in Istanbul in modern times. Also known as the Holy Trinity Church and as Aya Triada Rum Ortodoks Kilisesi in Turkish, this church was built in 1880 and was the first domed Christian church built in Istanbul.

Christmas Services at the Hagia Triada Church:
Service will be held in Greek on Saturday, Dec. 24 from 9:00 a.m. to noon as well as a separate mass at 4:00 p.m., while on Sunday, Dec. 25, there will be another three-hour service in Greek held from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

Church of St. Anthony of Padua
This Roman Catholic Church is known as Sent Antuan in Turkish and was first built in 1725 by the Italian community which constructed the basilica. The current building was constructed in 1906 and many visitors stop by the church over the holidays to light a candle and say a prayer.

Christmas Services at the Church of St. Anthony of Padua:
On Christmas Eve, Saturday, Dec. 24 there will be a vigil mass with carols at 8:00 p.m. and a Nativity of Jesus at 9:00 p.m. on Christmas day, Sunday, Dec. 25, services will start at 10:00 a.m. in English, at 11:30 a.m. in Polish, at 11:30 in Italian and at 7:00 p.m. in Turkish.

Church of Saint Mary Draperis
Known as Meryem Ana Draperis Latin Katolik Kilisesi in Turkish, this church is one of the most ancient Roman Catholic parishes in the city dating back to 1584. After fires ravished the original structure, it was re-erected in 1769 and was Istanbul’s most prestigious Catholic church throughout the 19th century.

Christmas Services at Church of Saint Mary Draperis:
On Christmas Eve, Saturday, Dec. 24, there will be a mass which will take place in Italian and English. On Christmas morning Sunday, Dec. 25 at 9:00 a.m. mass will be in Italian and at 11:30 a.m. the services will be held in English and Italian.

Church of Saints Peter and Paul
This church was built back in the 1400s with the Dominican convent by the Genoese. It is a Medieval Latin church that was reconstructed in 1843 and holds mass in several languages.

Christmas Services at Church of Saints Peter and Paul:
On Christmas day service will be held at 11:00 a.m. in Italian, French, English and Turkish.