Do you know where to celebrate Easter in Istanbul?
First of all, did you know that there are over 250 churches in Istanbul and more than 110 are still active?
Most of them are Greek Orthodox churches, while there is also a significant number of Gregorian Armenian, Catholic Armenian, Protestan Armenian, Roman Catholic, Bulgarian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, even Turkish Orthodox churches.
As Easter has started, the purple curtain in front of the apsis is drawn in Surp Hıreşdağabet Church as in all churches in the city. However, the altar on the left is left open, there is an icon of Virgin Mary here which is believed to respond to wishes. This is the only altar in Istanbul that is left open!
Although the current building is built in the 19th century, this is actually a much older church which was Greek Orthodox. As the Greeks left this church in the 17th century, it was given to the Armenians and rebuilt in the 19th century. That is the reason that the church encompasses a holy spring. One of the interesting, ironic examples of how different cultures, beliefs have intertwined with each other throughout centuries in Istanbul.
There are over 30 Armenian churches in Istanbul and over 80 Greek Orthodox ones. Basically plenty of places where you can attend the ceremony on Easter Sunday if you are here on April 8th!