Essential Architecture-  Turkey

St. John The Baptist of Studius, Emir Ahor Jamissi




Istanbul, Turkey






Brick, originally tile roof, later lead roof.


Present-day Mosque, former Church
Hagios Ioannes Prodromos en tois Stoudiou (Saint John the Forerunner at Stoudios), often shortened to Stoudios or Stoudion (Latin: Studium), was historically the most important monastery of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. The residents of the monastery were referred to as Stoudites (or Studites). Although the monastery has been derelict for half a millennium, the laws and customs of the Stoudion were taken as models by the monks of Mount Athos and of many other monasteries of the Orthodox world; even today they have influence.

The ruins of the monastery are situated not far from the Propontis (Marmara Sea) in the section of the city called Psamathia, today's Koca Mustafa Pasa. It was founded in 462 by the consul Stoudios (Latin: Studius), a Roman patrician who had settled in Constantinople, and was consecrated to Saint John the Baptist. Its first monks came from the monastery of Acoemetae.



A large apse and two high walls is all that remains of Studion, one of the greatest Byzantine institutions. It was a very large monastery which was founded in 462 by Studius, a Roman patrician. In the course of time it became the University of Constantinople although it was mainly limited to theological matters. The life of the monks had to comply with strict rules, including that which forbade women from entering the premises of Studion. These rules were adopted in many other Orthodox monasteries and are still complied with in the monastic Republic of Mount Athos in Greece.
The Studion was damaged during the 1204 Latin conquest of Constantinople and again in 1453 during the Ottoman one. In 1462 Sultan Fatih Mehmet evicted the remaining monks and he turned the church into a mosque. Two fires, an earthquake, a long abandonment and looting have destroyed the whole monastery and to a great extent the church; its remaining walls show that they were built according to the traditional Byzantine construction technique based on alternate layers of brick and stone.
It is located near Yedikule.

Source- Byzantine Churches in Constantinople- Their History and Architecture by Alexander Van Millingen and Ramsay Traquair and W. S. George and A. E. Henderson, 1912.



The mosque Emir Ahor Jamissi, situated in the quarter of Psamathia, near the modern Greek church of S. Constantine, and at short distance from the Golden Gate (Yedi Koulé), is the old church of S. John the Baptist, which was associated with the celebrated monastery of Studius. It may be reached by taking the train from Sirkiji Iskelessi to Psamathia or Yedi Koulé.


In favour of the identification of the building, there is, first, the authority of tradition, which in the case of a church so famous may be confidently accepted as decisive. In the next place, all indications of the character and position of the Studion, however vague, point to Emir Ahor Jamissi as the representative of that church. For the mosque presents the characteristic features which belonged to the Studion as a basilica of the fifth century, and stands where that sanctuary stood, in the district at the south-western angle of the city, and on the left hand of the street leading from S. Mary Peribleptos (Soulou Monastir) to the Golden Gate. Furthermore, as held true of the Studion, the mosque is in the vicinity of the Golden Gate, and readily 36accessible from a gate and landing (Narli Kapou) on the shore of the Sea of Marmora.


According to the historian Theophanes, the church was erected in the year 463 by the patrician Studius, after whom the church and the monastery attached to it were named. He is described as a Roman of noble birth and large means who devoted his wealth to the service of God, and may safely be identified with Studius who held the consulship in 454 during the reign of Marcian.


If we may trust the Anonymus, the church erected by Studius replaced a sanctuary which stood at one time, like the Chora, outside the city. Seeing the territory immediately beyond the Constantinian fortifications was well peopled before its inclusion within the city limits by Theodosius II., there is nothing improbable in the existence of such extra-mural sanctuaries, and as most, if not all, of them would be small buildings, they would naturally require enlargement or reconstruction when brought within the wider bounds of the capital. According to Suidas, the building was at first a parochial church; its attachment to a monastery was an after-thought of its founder.


The Ruined Interior, seen from the minaret of the mosque.

S. John of the Studion.
Ruined Interior, seen from the Minaret of the Mosque.

The West Side of the Church.

S. John of the Studion, from the west.


The monastery was large and richly endowed, capable of accommodating one thousand monks. Its first inmates were taken from a fraternity known as the Akoimeti, 'the sleepless'; so named because in successive companies they 37celebrated divine service in their chapels day and night without ceasing, like the worshippers in the courts of heaven.


'Even thus of old Our ancestors, within the still domain Of vast cathedral or conventual church Their vigils kept: where tapers day and night On the dim altar burned continually. In token that the House was ever more Watching to God. Religious men were they; Nor would their reason, tutored to aspire Above this transitory world, allow That there should pass a moment of the year When in their land the Almighty's service ceased.


But this devout practice does not seem to have been long continued at the Studion; for we never hear of it in any account of the discipline of the House. The monks of the Studion should therefore not be identified with the Akoimeti who took up such a determined and independent attitude in the theological conflicts under Zeno, Basiliscus, and Justinian the Great.


In the course of its history the church underwent noteworthy repairs on two occasions. It was first taken in hand for that purpose, soon after the middle of the eleventh century, by the Emperor Isaac Comnenus (1057-58), who was interested in the House because he and his brother had received part of their education in that 'illustrious and glorious school of virtue. What the repairs then made exactly involved is unfortunately not stated. But, according to Scylitzes, they were so extensive that 'to tell in detail what the emperor and empress did for the embellishment of the church would surpass the labour of Hercules. Probably they concerned chiefly the decoration of the edifice.


The next repairs on record were made about the year 1290, in the reign of Andronicus II., by his unfortunate brother Constantine Porphyrogenitus. Owing to the neglect 38of the building during the Latin occupation the roof had fallen in, the cells of the monks had disappeared, and sheep grazed undisturbed on the grass which covered the grounds. Constantine, rich, generous, fond of popularity, did all in his power to restore the former glory of the venerated shrine. The new roof was a remarkable piece of work; large sums were spent upon the proper accommodation of the monks, and the grounds were enclosed within strong walls.


Like other monastic institutions, the Studion suffered greatly at the hands of the iconoclast emperors. Under Constantine Copronymus, indeed, the fraternity was scattered to the winds and practically suppressed, so that only twelve old members of the House were able to take advantage of the permission to return to their former home, upon the first restoration of eikons in 787 by the Empress Irene. Under these circumstances a company of monks, with the famous abbot Theodore at their head, were eventually brought from the monastery of Saccudio to repeople the Studion, and with their advent in 799 the great era in the history of the House began, the number of the monks rising to seven hundred, if not one thousand.


Theodore had already established a great reputation for sanctity and moral courage. For when Constantine VI. repudiated the Empress Maria and married Theodote, one of her maids of honour, Theodore, though the new empress was his relative, denounced the marriage and the priest who had celebrated it, insisting that moral principles should govern the highest and lowest alike, and for this action he had gladly endured scourging and exile. The Studion had, therefore, a master who feared the face of no man, and who counted the most terrible sufferings as the small dust of the balance when weighed against righteousness, and under him the House became illustrious for its resistance to the tyranny of the civil power in matters affecting faith and morals. When the Emperor Nicephorus ordered the restoration of 39 the priest who had celebrated the marriage of Constantine VI. with Theodote, not only did Theodore and his brother Joseph, bishop of Thessalonica, and their venerable uncle Plato, endure imprisonment and exile, but every monk in the Studion defied the emperor. Summoning the fraternity into his presence, Nicephorus bade all who would obey his order go to the right, and all who dared to disobey him go to the left. Not a single man went to the right. Under the very eyes of the despot all went to the left, and in his wrath Nicephorus broke up the community and distributed the monks among various monasteries. Upon the accession of Michael I. the exiled monks and Theodore were allowed indeed to return to the Studion, peace being restored by the degradation of the priest who had celebrated the obnoxious marriage. But another storm darkened the sky, when Leo V., the Armenian, in 813, renewed the war against eikons. Theodore threw himself into the struggle with all the force of his being as their defender. He challenged the right of the imperial power to interfere with religious questions; he refused to keep silence on the subject; and on Palm Sunday, in 815, led a procession of his monks carrying eikons in their hands in triumph round the monastery grounds. Again he was scourged and banished. But he could not be subdued. By means of a large and active correspondence he continued an incessant and powerful agitation against the iconoclasts of the day. Nor would he come to terms with Michael II., who had married a nun, and who allowed the use of eikons only outside the capital. So Theodore retired, apparently a defeated man, to the monastery of Acritas; and there, 'on Sunday, 11 November 826, and about noon, feeling his strength fail, he bade them light candles and sing the 119th psalm, which seems to have been sung at funerals. At the words: "I will never forget Thy commandments, for with them Thou hast quickened me," he passed away.' He was buried on the island of Prinkipo, but eighteen years later, when eikons were finally restored in the worship of the 40 Orthodox Church, his body was transferred to the Studion, and laid with great ceremony in the presence of the Empress Theodora beside the graves of his uncle Plato and his brother Joseph, in sign that after all he had conquered. Tandem hic quiescit.




His remains were interred at the east end of the southern aisle, where his uncle Plato and his brother Joseph had been buried before him, and where Naucratius and Nicholas, his successors as abbots of the Studion, were laid to rest after him.


There, in fact, during the recent Russian exploration of the church, three coffins were discovered: one containing a single body, another four bodies, and another three bodies. The grave had evidently been disturbed at some time, for some of the bodies had no head, and all the coffins lay under the same bed of mortar. No marks were found by which to identify the persons whose remains were thus brought to view. But there can be no doubt that five of the bodies belonged to the five persons mentioned above. To whom the three other bodies belonged is a matter of pure conjecture. They might be the remains of three intimate friends of Theodore, viz. Athanasius, Euthemius, Timotheus, or more probably of the abbots, Sophronius (851-55), Achilles (858-63), Theodosius (863-64). Cf. Itin. russes, p. 100.


It would be a mistake, however, to think of Theodore only as a controversalist and defier of the civil authority. He was a deeply religious man, a pastor of souls, and he revived the religious and moral life of men, far and wide, not only in his own day, but long after his life on earth had closed. He made the Studion the centre of a great spiritual influence, which never wholly lost the impulse of his personality or the loftiness of his ideal. The forms of mediæval piety have become antiquated, and they were often empty and vain, but we must not be blind to the fact that they were frequently filled with a passion for holy living, and gave scope for the creation of characters which, notwithstanding their limitations, produced great and good men.



Façade of the Narthex.

S. John of the Studion.
Façade of the Narthex.

The Ruined Interior: west end of the north side.

S. John of the Studion.
The Ruined Interior: west end of the north side.


Speaking of Eastern monks and abbots, especially during the eighth and ninth centuries, Mr. Finlay, the historian, justly remarks that 'the manners, the extensive charity, and the pure morality of these abbots, secured them the love and admiration of the people, and tended to disseminate a higher standard of morality than had previously prevailed in Constantinople. This fact must not be overlooked in estimating the various causes which led to the regeneration of the Eastern Empire under the iconoclast emperors. While the Pope winked at the disorders in the palace of Charlemagne, the monks of the East prepared the public mind for the dethronement of Constantine VI. because he obtained an illegal divorce and formed a second marriage. The corruption of monks and the irregularities prevalent in the monasteries of the West contrast strongly with the condition of the Eastern monks.' Certainly to no one is this tribute of praise due more than to the brotherhood in the monastery of Studius.


The monks of the Studion, like most Greek monks, lived under the rules prescribed by S. Basil for the discipline of men who aspired to reach 'the angelic life.' Theodore, however, quickened the spirit which found expression in those rules, and while inculcating asceticism in its extremest form, showed greater consideration for the weakness of human nature. The penalties he assigned for transgressions were on the whole less Draconian than those inflicted before his time.


According to the moral ideal cherished in the monastery, the true life of man was to regard oneself but dust and ashes, and, like the angels, to be ever giving God thanks. If a monk repined at such a lot, he was to castigate himself by eating only dry bread for a week and performing 500 acts of penance. The prospect of death was always to be held in view. Often did the corridors of the monastery resound with the cry, 'We shall die, we shall die!' The valley of the shadow of death was considered the road to life eternal. A monk could not call even a needle his own. Nor were the clothes he wore his personal property. They were from time to time thrown into a heap with the clothes of the other members of the House, and every monk then42 took from the pile the garment most convenient to his hand. Female animals were forbidden the monastery. A monk was not allowed to kiss his mother, not even at Easter, under penalty of excommunication for fifty days. Daily he attended seven services, and had often to keep vigil all night long. There was only one set meal a day; anything more in the way of food consisted of the fragments which a monk laid aside from that meal. No meat was eaten unless by special permission for reasons of health.


If a brother ate meat without permission he went without fish, eggs, and cheese for forty days. The ordinary food consisted of vegetables cooked in oil. Fish, cheese, and eggs were luxuries. Two, sometimes three, cups of wine were permitted. If a brother was so unfortunate as to break a dish, he had to stand before the assembled monks at dinner time with covered head, and hold the broken article in view of all in the refectory. It was forbidden to a monk to feel sad. Melancholy was a sin, and was to be overcome by prayer, one hundred and fifty genuflexions, and five hundred Kyrie Eleisons a day. The monks were required to read regularly in the monastery library. The task of copying manuscripts occupied a place of honour, and was under strict regulations. Fifty genuflexions were the penalty prescribed for not keeping one's copy clean; one hundred and fifty such acts of penance for omitting an accent or mark of punctuation; thirty, for losing one's temper and breaking his pen; fasting on dry bread was the fate of the copyist guilty of leaving out any part of the original, and three days' seclusion for daring to trust his memory instead of following closely the text before him.


Ignatius of Smolensk found Russian monks in the monastery employed in transcribing books for circulation in Russia. Stephen of Novgorod met two old friends from his town busy copying the Scriptures. A good monastic scriptorium rendered an immense service; it did the work of the printing-press.


Yet, notwithstanding all restrictions, men could be happy at the Studion. One of its inmates for instance congratulates himself thus on his lot there, 'No barbarian looks upon my face; no woman hears my voice. For a thousand years no useless (ἄπρακτος) man has entered the monastery of Studius; none of the female sex has trodden its court. I dwell in a cell that is like a palace; a garden, an oliveyard, and a vineyard surround me. Before me are graceful and luxuriant cypress trees. On one hand is the city with its market-place; on the other, the mother of churches and the empire of the world.


Hymnology was likewise cultivated at the Studion, many hymns of the Greek Church being composed by Theodore and his brother Joseph.

Two abbots of the monastery became patriarchs: Antony (975), and Alexius (1025), the latter on the occasion when he carried the great relic of the Studion, the head of John the Baptist, to Basil II. lying at the point of death.


At least as early as the reign of Alexius I. Comnenus, the abbot of the Studion held the first place among his fellow-abbots in the city. His precedence is distinctly recognised in a Patriarchal Act of 1381 as a right of old standing.


The spirit of independence which characterized the monastery did not die with the abbot Theodore. The monks of the Studion were the most stubborn opponents of the famous Photius who had been elevated to the patriarchal throne directly from the ranks of the laity, and in the course of the conflict between him and the monks during the first 44tenure of his office for ten years, the abbots of the House were changed five times. Indeed, when Photius appointed Santabarenus as the abbot, a man accused of being a Manichaean, and who professed to be able to communicate with departed spirits, many of the monks, if not all of them, left their home. Nor was this the last assertion of the freedom of conscience for which this monastery was distinguished, and which makes it memorable in history.


Like other monasteries the Studion often served as a place of correction for offenders whom it was expedient to render harmless without recourse to the extreme rigour of the law. Santabarenus, who has just been mentioned, was sent in his wild youth, after narrowly escaping a sentence of death at the hands of the Caesar Bardas, to this monastery in the hope of being reformed in the orthodox atmosphere of the House. In the reign of Leo VI. (826-912), an official named Mousikos was sent hither to be cured of the propensity to accept bribes. In 912, Gregoras and Choirosphacta were obliged to join the brotherhood to repent at leisure for having favoured the attempt of Constantine Ducas, domestic of the Scholae, to usurp the throne of Constantine VII. Porphyrogenitus when seven years of age.


Entablature and Anta Capital in the Narthex.

S. John of the Studion.
Entablature and Anta Capital in the Narthex.

Cornice in the Narthex, looking up.

S. John of the Studion.
Cornice in the Narthex, looking up


Several emperors sought the shelter of the Studion as a refuge from danger, or as a retreat from the vanity of the world. Thither, in 1041, Michael V. and his uncle Constantine fled from the popular fury excited by their deposition of the Empress Zoe and the slaughter of three thousand persons in the defence of the palace. The two fugitives made for the monastery by boat, and betook themselves to the church for sanctuary. But as soon as the place of their concealment became known, an angry crowd forced a way into the building to wreak vengeance upon them, and created a scene of which Psellus has left us a graphic account. Upon hearing the news of what was going on, he and an officer of the imperial guard mounted horse and galloped to the Studion. A fierce mob was madly attempting to pull down the structure, and it was with the utmost difficulty that the two friends managed to enter the church and make their way to the altar. The building seemed full of wild animals, glaring with eyes on fire at their victims, and making the air resound with the most terrible cries. Michael was on his knees clasping the holy table; Constantine stood on the right; both were dressed like monks, and their features were so transformed by terror as to be almost beyond recognition. The spectacle of greatness thus brought low was so pathetic that Psellus burst into tears and sobbed aloud. But the crowd only grew more fierce, and drew nearer and nearer to the fugitives as though to rend them in pieces. Only a superstitious dread restrained it from laying hands upon them in a shrine so sacred and venerated. The uproar lasted for hours, the mob content meanwhile with striking terror and making flight impossible. At length, late in the afternoon, the prefect of the city appeared upon the scene, accompanied by soldiers and followed by large crowds of citizens. He came with instructions to bring Michael and Constantine out of the church. In vain did he try the effect of mild words and promises of a gentle fate. The fallen emperor and his uncle clung to the altar more desperately. The prefect then gave orders that the two wretched men should be dragged forth by main force. They gripped the altar yet more tightly, and in piteous tones invoked the aid of all the eikons in the building. The scene became so heartrending that most of the spectators interfered on behalf of the victims of misfortune, and only by giving solemn assurance that they would not be put to death was the prefect allowed to proceed to their arrest. Michael and Constantine were then dragged by the feet as far as the Sigma, above S. Mary Peribleptos (Soulou Monastir), and after having their eyes burnt out were banished to different monasteries, to muse on the vanity of human greatness and repent of their misdeeds.


The Studion appears in the final rupture of the Eastern and Western Churches. The immediate occasion was a 46letter sent by the Archbishop of Achrida, in 1053, to the Bishop of Trani, condemning the Church of Rome for the use of unleavened bread in the administration of the Holy Communion, and for allowing a fast on Saturday. Nicetas Stethetos (Pectoratus), a member of the House renowned for his asceticism, and for his courage in reproving the scandalous connection of Constantine IX. with Sklerena, wrote a pamphlet, in Latin, in which, in addition to the charges against Rome made by the Archbishop of Achrida, the enforced celibacy of the clergy was denounced. The pamphlet was widely circulated by the Patriarch Kerularios, who wished to bring the dispute between the Churches to an issue. But the emperor not being prepared to go so far, invited the Pope to send three legates to Constantinople to settle the differences which disturbed the Christian world. Cardinal Humbert, one of the legates, replied to Nicetas in the most violent language of theological controversy, and to bring matters to a conclusion an assembly, which was attended by the Emperor Constantine, his court, and the Papal legates, met at the Studion on the 24th of June 1054. A Greek translation of the pamphlet composed by Nicetas was then read, and after the discussion of the subject, Nicetas retracted his charges and condemned all opponents of the Roman Church. His pamphlet was, moreover, thrown into the fire by the emperor's orders, and on the following day he called upon the Papal legates, who were lodged at the palace of the Pegé (Baloukli), and was received into the communion of the Church he had lately denounced. But the patriarch was not so fickle or pliant. He would not yield an iota, and on the 15th of July 1054 Cardinal Humbert laid on the altar of S. Sophia the bull of excommunication against Kerularios and all his followers, which has kept Western and Eastern Christendom divided to this day.


When Michael VII. (1067-78) saw that the tide of popular feeling had turned against him in favour of Nicephorus Botoniates, he meekly retired to this House, declining to purchase a crown with cruelty by calling upon the Varangian guards to defend his throne with their battle-47axes. Michael was appointed bishop of Ephesus, but after paying one visit to his diocese he returned to Constantinople and took up his abode in the monastery of Manuel.


To the Studion, where he had studied in his youth and which he had embellished, the Emperor Isaac Comnenus retired, when pleurisy and the injuries he received while boar-hunting made him realize that he had but a short time to live. In fact, he survived his abdication for one year only, but during that period he proved a most exemplary monk, showing the greatest deference to his abbot, and besides performing other lowly duties acted as keeper of the monastery gate. How thoroughly he was reconciled to the exchange of a throne for a cell appears in the remark made to his wife, who had meantime taken the veil at the Myrelaion, 'Acknowledge that when I gave you the crown I made you a slave, and that when I took it away I set you free.' His widow commemorated his death annually at the Studion, and on the last occasion surprised the abbot by making a double offering, saying, 'I may not live another year,' a presentiment which proved true. According to her dying request, Aecatherina was buried in the cemetery of the Studion, 'as a simple nun, without any sign to indicate that she was born a Bulgarian princess and had been a Roman empress.


On the occasion of the triumphal entry of Michael Palaeologus into the city in 1261, the emperor followed the eikon of the Theotokos Hodegetria, to whom the recovery of the Empire was attributed, on foot as far as the Studion; and there, having placed the eikon in the church, he mounted horse to proceed to S. Sophia.


One of the sons of Sultan Bajazet was buried at the Studion. The prince had been sent by the Sultan as a hostage to the Byzantine Court, and being very young attended school in Constantinople with John, the son of the Emperor Manuel. There he acquired a taste for Greek letters, and became a convert to the Christian faith; but for fear of the 48Sultan's displeasure he was long refused permission to be baptized. Only when the young man lay at the point of death, in 1417, a victim to the plague raging in the city, was the rite administered, his schoolmate and friend acting as sponsor.


A tombstone from the cemetery of the monastery is built into the Turkish wall at the north-eastern corner of the church. It bears an epitaph to the following effect:—'In the month of September of the year 1387, fell asleep the servant of God, Dionysius the Russian, on the sixth day of the month.' The patrician Bonus, who defended the city against the Avars in 627, while the Emperor Heraclius was absent dealing with the Persians, was buried at the Studion.


On the festival of the Decapitation of S. John the Baptist, the emperor attended service at the Studion in great state. Early in the morning the members of the senate assembled therefore at the monastery, while dignitaries of an inferior rank took their place outside the gate (Narli Kapou) in the city walls below the monastery, and at the pier at the foot of the steep path that descends from that gate to the shore of the Sea of Marmora, all awaiting the arrival of the imperial barge from the Great Palace. Both sides of the path were lined by monks of the House, holding lighted tapers, and as soon as the emperor disembarked, the officials at the pier and the crowd of monks, with the abbot at their head, swinging his silver censer of fragrant smoke, led the way up to the gate. There a halt was made for the magistri, patricians, and omphikialioi (ὀμφικιάλιοι) to do homage to the sovereign and join the procession, and then the long train wended its way through the open grounds attached to the monastery  until it reached the south-eastern end of the narthex . Before the entrance at that point, the emperor put on richly embroidered robes, lighted tapers, and then followed the clergy into the church, to take his stand at the east end of the south aisle. The most important act he performed during the service was to incense the head of John the Baptist enshrined on the right hand of the bema. At the conclusion of the Office of the day, he was served by the monks with refreshments under the shade of the trees in the monastery grounds ; and, after a short rest, proceeded to his barge with the same ceremonial as attended his arrival, and returned to the palace.

S. John of the Studion, from the south-east.

S. John of the Studion, from the south-east.


The church was converted into a mosque in the reign of Bajazet II. (1481-1512) by the Sultan's equerry, after whom it is now named.


Architectural Features


The church of S. John the Baptist of the Studion is a basilica, and is of special interest because the only surviving example of that type in Constantinople, built while the basilica was the dominant form of ecclesiastical architecture in the Christian world. It has suffered severely since the Turkish conquest, especially from the fire which, in 1782, devastated the quarter in which it stands, and from the fall of its roof, a few winters ago, under an unusual weight of snow. Still, what of it remains and the descriptions of its earlier state given by Gyllius, Gerlach, and other visitors, enable us to form a fair idea of its original appearance. The recent explorations conducted by the Russian Institute at Constantinople have also added much to our knowledge of the building.


It is the oldest church fabric in the city, and within its precincts we stand amid the surroundings of early Christian congregations. For, partly in original forms, partly in imitations, we still find here a basilica's characteristic features: the atrium, or quadrangular court before the church; on three of its sides surrounded by cloisters; in its centre, the marble phialé or fountain, for the purification of the gathering worshippers; the narthex, a pillared porch along the western façade, where catechumens and penitents, unworthy to enter 50the sanctuary itself, stood afar off; the interior area divided into nave and aisles by lines of columns; the semicircular apse at the eastern extremity of the nave for altar and clergy; and galleries on the other sides of the building to provide ample accommodation for large assemblies of faithful people.




Gyllius (De Top. Constant. l. iv. c. 9) describes the church as follows: 'Quod (monasterium) nunc non extat; aedes extat, translata in religionem Mametanam; in cujus vestibulo sunt quatuor columnae cum trabeatione egregie elaborata; in interiore parte aedium utrinque columnae sunt septem virides, nigris maculis velut fragmentis alterius generis lapidum insertis distinctae, quarum perimeter est sex pedum et sex digitorum. Denique earum ratio capitulorum, epistyliorum opere Corinthio elaborata, eadem est quae columnarum vestibuli. Supra illas sex existunt totidem columnae in parte aedis superiore. In area aedis Studianae est cisterna, cujus lateritias cameras sustinent viginti tres columnae excelsae Corinthiae.


Gerlach (Tagebuch, p. 217; cf. pp. 359, 406) describes it under the style of the church of S. Theodore, for he confounds the monastery of Studius with that of the Peribleptos at Soulou Monastir: 'Das ist eine sehr hohe und weite Kirche (wie die unsern); hat zwei Reyhen Marmel-steiner Säulen mit Corinthischen Knäufen (capitellis), auff einer jeden Seiten sieben; auff deren jeden wieder ein andere Säule stehet. Der Boden ist mit lauter buntem von Vögeln und anderen Thieren gezierten Marmel auff das schönste gepflästert.' (This is a very lofty and broad church (like our churches). It has two rows of marble columns with Corinthian capitals, on either side seven; over each of which stands again another column. The floor is paved in the most beautiful fashion entirely with variegated marble, adorned with figures of birds and other animals.)


Choiseul Gouffier (Voyage pittoresque en Grèce, ii. p. 477), French ambassador to the Sublime Porte (1779-92), speaks of the church in the following terms: 'Dans l'intérieur sont de chaque côté sept colonnes de vert antique, surmontées d'une frise de marbre blanc parfaitement sculptée, qui contient un ordre plus petit et très bien proportionné avec le premier. Je ne sais de quel marbre sont ces secondes colonnes, parce que les Turcs qui défigurent tout ont imaginé de les couvrir de chaux.


Ph. Bruun (Constantinople, ses sanctuaires et ses reliques au commencement du XV^e siècle, Odessa, 1883) identifies with the Studion one of the churches dedicated to S. John, which Ruy 51Gonzalez de Clavijo visited in Constantinople when on his way to the Court of Tamerlane. But that church was 'a round church without corners,' 'una quadra redonda sin esquinas,' and had forty-eight columns of verd antique, 'veinte é quatro marmoles de jaspe verde, ... é otros veinte é quatro marmoles de jaspe verde.' What church the Spanish ambassador had in view, if his description is correct, it is impossible to say. No other writer describes such a church in Constantinople. See the Note at the end of this chapter for the full text of the ambassador's description.


The northern wall of the atrium is original, as the crosses in brick formed in its brickwork show. The trees which shade the court, the Turkish tombstones beneath them, and the fountain in the centre, combine to form a very beautiful approach to the church, and reproduce the general features and atmosphere of its earlier days.


The narthex is divided into three bays, separated by heavy arches. It is covered by a modern wooden roof, but shows no signs of ever having been vaulted. The centre bay contains in its external wall a beautiful colonnade of four marble columns, disposed, to use a classical term, 'in antis.' They stand on comparatively poor bases, but their Corinthian capitals are exceptionally fine, showing the richest Byzantine form of that type of capital. The little birds under the angles of the abaci should not be overlooked.


The entablature above the columns, with its architrave, frieze, and cornice, follows the classic form very closely, and is enriched in every member. Particularly interesting are the birds, the crosses, and other figures in the spaces between the modillions and the heavy scroll of the frieze. The drill has been very freely used throughout, and gives a pleasant sparkle to the work.


In the second and fourth intercolumniations there are doorways with moulded jambs, lintels, and cornices, but only the upper parts of these doorways are now left open to serve as windows.


The cornice of the entablature returns westwards at its northern and southern ends, indicating that a colonnade, with a smaller cornice, ran along the northern and southern sides of the atrium, if not also along its western side. The cloisters behind the colonnades, were connected at their west end with the narthex by two large and elaborately moulded doorways still in position.


Five doors lead from the narthex into the church; three opening into the nave, the others into the aisles.


The interior of the church, now almost a total ruin, was divided into nave and two aisles by colonnades of seven columns of verd antique marble. But only six of the original columns have survived the injuries which the building has sustained; the other columns are Turkish, and are constructed of wood with painted plaster covering.


The colonnades supported an entablature of late Corinthian type, which, as the fall of the Turkish plaster that once covered it has revealed, had the same moulding as the entablature in the narthex. The architrave was in three faces, with a small bead ornament to the upper two, and finished above with a small projecting moulding. The frieze was an ogee, bellied in the lower part. Of the cornice only the bed mould, carved with a leaf and tongue, remains.


Above each colonnade stood another range of seven columns connected, probably, by arches. Along the northern, southern, and western sides of the church were galleries constructed of wood. Those to the north and south still exist in a ruined condition, and many of the stone corbels which supported the beams remain in the walls. Only scanty vestiges of the gallery above the narthex can be now distinguished. Its western wall, the original outer wall of the upper part of the church, has totally disappeared. Its eastern arcade has been replaced by the Turkish wall which constitutes the present outer wall of that part of the church. But beyond either end of that wall are visible, though built up, the old openings by which the gallery communicated with its companion galleries; while to the west of the wall project the ragged ends of the Byzantine walls which formed the gallery's northern and southern sides. The nave rose probably to a greater height than it does now, and had a roof at a higher level 53 than the roofing of the aisles. It doubtless resembled the basilican churches at Salonica, either with clearstory windows, as in S. Demetrius, or without such windows, as in Eski Juma Jamissi.

S. John of the Studion, East end.

E. M. Antoniadi.

S. John of the Studion,
East end.

S. John of the Studion, North side, East end.

S. John of the Studion,
North side, East end.


The nave terminates in a large apse, semicircular within and showing three sides on the exterior. Only the lower part is original; the Turkish superstructure is lower and on a smaller scale than the Byzantine portion it has replaced. There are no side chapels. Under the bema the Russian explorers discovered a small cruciform crypt. The large quantity of mosaic cubes found in the church during the recent Russian excavations proves that the church was decorated with mosaics, while the remains of iron plugs in the western wall for holding marble slabs show that the building had the customary marble revetment. But what is curious is to find the mortar pressed over the face of the stones, and broad decorative joints formed by ruled incised lines and colour. Mr. W. S. George suggests that this was a temporary decoration executed pending some delay in the covering of the walls with marble. He also thinks that the importance given to the joint in late Byzantine work and in Turkish work may be a development from such early treatment of mortar.


The floor of the church was paved with pieces of marble arranged in beautiful patterns, in which figures of animals and scenes from classic mythology were inlaid. Gerlach noticed the beauty of the pavement, and Salzenberg represents a portion of it in his work on S. Sophia. But the members of the Russian Institute of Constantinople have had the good fortune to bring the whole pavement to light.

A noticeable feature is the number of doors to the church, as in S. Irene. Besides the five doors already mentioned, leading into the interior from the narthex, there is a door at the eastern end of each aisle, and close to each of these doors is found both in the southern and northern walls of the building an additional door surmounted by a 54window. The latter doors and their windows have been walled up.

The exterior is in two stories, corresponding to the ground floor and the galleries. It has two ranges of eight large semicircular-headed windows in the northern and southern walls, some of them modified, others built up, since the building became a mosque. The five windows in the gable of the western wall are, like the wall itself, Turkish. Pilasters are placed at the angles and at the apse.

On the south side of the church is a cistern, the roof of which rests on twenty-three columns crowned by beautiful Corinthian capitals.



S. John of the Studion. Cistern.

S. John of the Studion. Cistern.

S. John of the Studion.




The full text of the description given of the church of S. John, mentioned by Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo, reads as follows:—

É la primera parte (puerta?) de la Iglesia es muy alta é de obra rica, é delante desta puerta está un grand corral y luego al cuerpo de la Iglesia, é el qual cuerpo es una quadra redonda sin esquinas muy alta, é es cerrada al derredor de tres grandes naves, que son cubiertas da un cielo ellas y la quadra. É ha en ella siete altares, é el cielo desta quadra é naves é las paredés es de obra de musayca muy ricamente labrada, é en ello muchas historias, é la quadra está armada sobre veinte é quatro marmoles de jaspe verde, é las dichas naves son sobradadas, é los sobrados dellas salen al cuerpo de la Iglesia, é alli avia otros veinte é quatro marmoles de jaspe verde, é il cielo de la quadra é las paredes e de obra musayca, é los andamios de las naves salen sobre el cuerpo de la Iglesia, é alli do avia de aver verjas avia marmoles pequenos de jaspe.


With the kind help of Professor Cossio of Madrid, the Spanish text may be roughly translated as follows:—

And the first part (door?) of the church is very lofty and richly worked. And before this door is a large court beside the body of the church; and the said body is a round hall without corners (or angles), very lofty, and enclosed round about by three large naves, which are covered, they and the hall, by one roof. And it (the church) has in it seven altars; and the roof of the hall and naves and the walls are of mosaic work very richly wrought, in which are (depicted) many histories. And the (roof of the) hall is placed on 55 twenty-four marble columns of green jasper (verd antique). And the said naves have galleries, and the galleries open on the body of the church, and these have other twenty-four marble columns of green jasper; and the roof of the hall and the walls are of mosaic work. And the elevated walks of the naves open over the body of the church, and where a balustrade should be found there are small marble columns of jasper.

Outside the church, adds the ambassador, was a beautiful chapel dedicated to S. Mary, remarkable for its mosaics.

Fig. 12. S. John the Baptist of the Studion. Plan of the Church.

Fig. 12.

Fig. 13. S. John the Baptist of the Studion. Long Section

Fig. 13.

John the Baptist of the Studion. Cross Section, looking east and Cross Section, looking west.

Figs. 14. and 15.

John the Baptist of the Studion. Elevation of the Narthex and the Longitudinal Section of western portion of the Nave.

Figs. 16. and 17.

John the Baptist of the Studion. Details of the Narthex, Colonnade, Doors, Windows.

Fig. 18.

Details of Doors; Details from Church of S. Theodore and from S. Saviour in the Chora.

Fig. 19.

Text quoted from-
Byzantine Churches in Constantinople, Their History and Architecture.
MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited, London, 1912.
by Alexander Van Millingen and Ramsay Traquair and W. S. George and A. E. Henderson.