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The Greek Orthodox Aya Triada (Church of Holy Trinity) is housed in an imposing building dating from 1902, in a charming garden graced by two Byzantine pillars. On a weekday, all is still and quiet and the only buzz comes from a couple of shaded cafes on the south side. On Sunday, however, the church flings open its doors to a bewildering array of Greek speakers. Some have lived here all their lives but many are visitors from Greece and beyond. After the service, all form an orderly queue to receive bunches of sweet basil dripping with holy water from the priest – given as a reminder of the faith of Helena, Constantine’s mother, and the persistence that led to her discovery of the site of the True Cross beneath a patch of basil, though its usual fate is to be put in a drawer to repel moths and mice.
Highlights include a beautiful iconostasis with fine paintings and an original of the replica that covers the sacred spring dedicated to St Catherine in the basement of the meyhane Koço, on Moda Caddesi. The painted Christ Pantocrator and Virgin on the dome, and the double-headed eagle of Byzantium, however, seem crude.
Contributions by Andrew Finkel, Harriet Rix, Tim Cornwell et al. Photographs by Monica Fritz, Brian McKee, Fritz von der Schulenburg
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