Recently published photos of an excavation site in the Sultanahmet District of Istanbul reveals a hidden church and holy spring dating back to the days of the Byzantine Empire.
The site is located on Amiral Tadfil Street in the very heart of the ancient city of Constantinople, lying beneath a building belonging to a former tourist agency known as “Kirkit Voyage.” Workers from the Istanbul Archaeological Museum excavated the area from 1997 to 1998.
The treasures found there include a beautiful floor mosaic and a small subterranean chamber with a niche, with both split apart into two different sectors – one on top of the other.
The upper section, which is one floor below the current street level, contains the floor mosaic as well as the ruins of an unknown structure. The site is estimated to date back to the 5th or 6th century, and was located very possibly near the vicinity of the Great Palace of Constantinople.
A vaulted chamber that is also present appears to date back to the 11th or 12th century, according to the archaeologists.
The second level underneath contains a niche of a former Byzantine church, decorated with a marble slab and containing a small pool of water. A lunette above the area is adorned with a fresco depicting the Theotokos holding the Christ Child.
The researchers suggest that the holy spring, or “hagiasma,” belonged at one time to the Hodegon Monastery. This theory, however, remains unlikely, as the monastery is too far east.
The site can be accessed either through the Kirkit Voyage tourist agency on Amiral Tadfil Street or Sedir Carpet & Kilim on Mimar Mehmet Ağa Street in Sultanahmet.
Important sites including the Byzantine Cathedral of Hagia Sophia and various other notable monuments are in what is now known as the Sultanahmet District, located in the heart of Constantinople. This new discovery helps to show that Istanbul still holds a wealth of Greek history that is just waiting to be found.
A collection of the photographs of the site can also be found here.