Christian Historical Places and Sites in Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

There are many amazing parts of Turkey and some of them include their incredible beaches and Mediterranean sun. However, in recent times, religious tourism seems to be growing rapidly in the country. This is mainly due to the presence of some key biblical sites that can be found all over the country. The country’s biblical history is very rich and a lot of prominent figures of the religion were born in this particular country. The country has also decided to restore some biblical site with some importance and open it to the public. Some of the most popular Christian historical sites are mentioned below.

Basilica of St. John, Ephesus

Sometime in the 6th century, the Basilica of St. John in Ephesus was built by Emperor Justinian. Ephesus was considered to be one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire at that period. This is also believed to be the site of burial of St. John, an apostle, evangelist, and prophet who is credited as being the one who wrote the Fourth Gospel and Revelation. His untouched tomb can be found at the center of the excavation site.

Church of Mary, Ephesus

Located in Ephesus as well, the Church of Mary also has great historical significance. This church is also commonly referred to as Double Church due to the fact that one aisle was dedicated to St. John while the other was dedicated to the virgin Mary. It is also known as the Council Church because it is believed that the Council of Ephesus met there.

Seven Sleepers Cave, Ephesus

The Seven Sleepers Cave can be found about 8km away from Ephesus. The name “Seven Sleepers” was given to this site because seven young men hid in the cave when the Christians were being prosecuted during the reign of Decius. While hiding, they all fell asleep and miraculously woke up sometime around 435 A.D, which is about two centuries later in the reign of Theodosius II. The seven young men then went into the city only to be amazed by the presence of churches and the freedom of worship that has been granted to Christians. After living their lives, the seven sleepers died of natural cause and were buried in the same cave they were believed to have slept in for two centuries.

Virgin Mary’s House, Selchuk

This site is believed to be the last known residence of the Virgin Mary. It can be found somewhere high in the green hills of Selchuk. It is mainly funded by the Catholic Church, even though the claims have never been verified, this house is believed to be her final resting place. This site is however not just visited by Christians but also by Muslims because Mary is also featured in the Islamic religion.

Cave Church of St. Peter, Antakya

The Grotto of St. Peter is also commonly referred to as the “Cave Church of St. Peter”. This is an old church that was built in a cave with stone façade. This church can be found just outside Antioch in modern Antakya, Turkey. It is believed that this cave was dug by the Apostle, Peter himself to be used as a church for early Christians of Antioch. It was built into the side of a mountain. It is also regarded as the first Christian church ever built.

Church of St. Nicholas, Demre

This historical church can be found near the ruins of Myra in Demre. It was said to be the burial site of Saint Nicholas until it was looted by Italian sailors. Saint Nicholas is more commonly known as Father Christmas. This church is a ruined Byzantine church that houses the tomb of St. Nicholas of Myra.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia is a Greek word for the “Church of Holy Wisdom” and it is located in Istanbul. This site was formally a Byzantine church and also a former Ottoman Mosque. This site is now a museum that has been recognized all around the world as one of the important sites in the world. The Hagia Sophia was said to have been built by Constantine the Great, who was the first Christian Emperor.

The Monastery of Stoudios, Istanbul

This monastery is often considered to be the most important monastery of the Constantinople which was the capital of the Roman Empire during the period of the Ottoman Empire. This monastery was built by the Concul Stoudios in 462 AD but it became a popular site for religious activities in the Byzantine period. However, the only part of this building to survive till the 20th century was the cathedral of St. John the Baptist which is considered to be one of the oldest church around in Istanbul today.

The Lycus Valley, Denizli

In the first century, this valley was the site if three Christian communities including Laodicea, Colossae, and Hierapolis. Two of these communities have been associated with the writings from the Book of Revelations, the New Testament and the Letter to the Colossians. In one of these texts, it was said that the central pastoral minister to the Colossians, Epaphras “has worked hard for you and those in Laodicea and Hierapolis” (Col 4:13). This suggests that these three Christian communities had the same preacher for their ministry and that same Christian leader has a pastoral responsibility to all the three communities. And due to their fact that they are not far from each other, they started developing a form and style of evangelism.

Chora Church, Istanbul

The Chora Church is said to be the first church that was built in 346. It is commonly referred to as St. Saviour and it can be found at the edge of Istanbul not far from the Land Wall of Emperor Theodosius. Even though the precise date of construction is unknown, there are reports from the author, Saint Simeon Metaphrastes, who lived during the late 10th century that this site became important because it was considered to be a “necropol” during the early times of Christianity. It is also believed that this site is the burial place for Saint Babylas and his 84 followers who were killed in Iznik during the start of the 4th century.

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