Find it

Church of St Benoit

Kemeraltı Caddesi No. 11, Karaköy

Catch the tram to Tophane


The Church of St Benoit was built in 1427 and is the oldest Roman-Catholic church still in use in the city. It is reachable by a staircase and its west side entrance features an atrium whose columns and capitals are almost totally Byzantine spolia.

The church was built to commemorate the Saints Virginis Mariae and Beati Benedicti of the Benedictine order. It was joined to the French Kingdom in 1540 and was passed into the hands of the Jesuits in 1583. After the fire of 1687, a new dome was built despite a law prohibiting this construction. In the late 17th century, it was considered to be the most beautiful church in the neighbourhood and its restorations were financed by wealthy merchants from Marseille. The church was again ravaged by fire in 1865, with only the 15th-century bell tower remaining. The tomb of the famous Hungarian revolutionist Francis II Rákócz, who died in Tekirdağ in 1735, was carried to Hungary from the church in 1906.

The church complex leans on a terrace, perhaps part of the Byzantine cistern which was once nearby. During the Ottoman times, the site was a fruit garden and was known as ‘Çukurbostan’ (‘Hollow Garden’). Originally the small church with three naves had only one dome, an atrium and a gallery, while the interior was decorated with mosaics depicting Jesus Christ. The main and the south naves are from the 1752 restoration, while the north nave was erected during the 1871 reconstruction. The first two naves have small chambers covered with domes on their ends and it is possible that the southernmost of these chambers are remains from an ancient Byzantine church. The interior has several inscribed gravestones from the 17th and 18th centuries of wealthy Levantine families, the church’s benefactors and French ambassadors.


More Reading
Good places to stay
Buy the latest issue
Or, browse the back issues here
Issue 60, January 2020 Istanbul: The Ultimate Museum Guide
£ 12.00



Cornucopia Digital Subscription

The Digital Edition

Cornucopia has joined forces with the digital publishing platform Exact Editions to offer individual and institutional subscribers unlimited access to a searchable archive of fascinating back issues and every newly published issue. This brand new resource is available cross-platform on web, iOS and Android and offers a comprehensive search function, allowing the title’s cultural content to be delved into at the touch of a button.

Digital Subscription: £18.99 / $18.99 (1 year)

Subscribe now

Print subscribers automatically receive FREE access to the digital archive. If you are already a subscriber, please register at www.exacteditions.com/digital/cornucopia with your subscriber account number or contact subscriptions@cornucopia.net