Church visit

Construction of The New Temple

The Friars of the order of Preachers, commonly known in England as the Black friars due to the black cape worn over their white robe, came to Istanbul (Constantinople), in the first half of the 13th century and established themselves in Galata, where they built the church  of St. Paul.

Throughout history, the church was destroyed and rebuilt 6 times before having the one we have today.

Indeed, in 1475, the church was converted into a mosque (the Arap Camii) so the Black Friars were forced to look for another site to build their church.

The Friars, then retreated into another building standing a few hundred meters beyond the former one. This new church was dedicated to Saint Peter!

A little bit of history

Peter was Jesus’ closest friend and disciple and became an apostle during his ministry. After the death of Jesus, Peter became the leader of the apostles and is often described as their spokesperson in the gospels. He is considered as one of the pillars of the early Church. After Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, Peter began to preach his own version of Christ’s teachings to everyone he could find. He began assuming the position of a leader and gathered a group of followers. That’s why he was considered the first Pope of Rome.


During the reign of Emperor Nero, a widespread fire was unleashed in Rome, for which he blamed the Christians. This led to Saint Peter’s crucifixion. He requested that he be crucified with his head pointing downwards because he didn’t consider himself worthy enough to die the same way as Jesus. 

This new church dedicated to Saint Peter was in service till 1603 when it was decided to build a more functional one. However, few years later, on the first of April 1660, a serious fire destroyed it. In 1731, the same fate befell the construction that succeeded it.

        However, the Black Friars were not discouraged and decided to build a fifth one.

Then in 1841, in view of the former troubles, the Black Friars demolished this in order to build a larger, safer and more beautiful church. For this purpose, they consulted the famous architect Gaspare Fossati (who also restored Hagia Sophia) and in 1843 it was finally possible to construct the new temple dedicated to Saint PETER and Saint PAUL, which still stands.

Interior vew of the church

         Pius IX promoted the spread of Roman sacred painting in the Middle East and beyond, sometimes sending paintings himself to dioceses as gifts.

         His gifts to Istanbul date back to 1862: two works by Vincenzo Morani, one for the Church of the Assumption in Moda-Kadikoy and one for S. Gregory, an Armenian-Catholic church. The altarpiece of the church of Sen Piyer is by the Dominican Serafino Guidotti and arrived in 1855 for this reason it can still be considered part of this pontifical policy of diffusion of sacred art. Conceived according to the canons of the neo classical style, on a rectangular plan, the church measures 35 meters and is 14 meters high.

The rear wall behind the high altar, is built into the remains of the Genoese ramparts of Galata!


According to the law, at that time it was IMPOSSIBLE to build a façade on the street. For this reason, there is only one entrance surrounded by a simple frame of marble and surmounted by a tympanus and an “oculus”.

A little bit more about the church…

In this church, six small marble columns support the elegant cupola while two angels mount a guard of honor; one of them represents “Justice” (the Old Testament, the one who holds the sword) and the other one “God’s Love” (the one who holds the cross).

On each side of the tabernacle are marble bas-reliefs symbolizing the Eucharist: The Arch of the Alliance and the memorial of the Passion and Resurrection. At either end of the Altar table stands of almost life size, statues of Faith who holds the Cross, and of Law who points to the Ten commandments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *