Essential Architecture-  Turkey

Balaban Aga Mesjedi




Istanbul, Turkey






Brick, originally tile roof, later lead roof.


Present-day Mosque, former Church



A small Byzantine building, now used for Moslem worship under the name of Balaban Aga Mesjedi, is situated in the quarter of Shahzadé, off the south side of the street leading to the mosque of Sultan Mehemed and the gate Edirne Kapoussi. Mordtmann 460 proposes to identify it with the church of the Theotokos in the district of the Curator (τοῦ Κουράτορος), the foundation of which is ascribed to Verina, the consort of Leo Macellus (457-474). 461 The only reason for this conjecture is that the church in question stood where Balaban Aga Mesjedi stands, in the neighbourhood of the forum of Taurus, 462 now represented by the open area beside the War Office and the mosque of Sultan Bajazet. But the plan of the building does not correspond to the description given of the Theotokos in the district of the Curator. The latter resembled the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, 463 and was therefore circular, whereas Balaban Aga Mesjedi is a hexagon. Indeed, it may be questioned whether the building was ever a church, seeing it has no room for either a berm, or an apse, or an eikonostosis. It may have been the library of a monastic establishment.


Architectural Features


Internally the building is an accurate hexagon, with a deeply arched recess in each side. Five recesses have a window, while in the sixth recess, instead of a window, there is a door. The cornice and wooden ceiling are Turkish. Externally the edifice shows four sides, two circular and two flat projecting bays, arranged in alternate order. In each of the circular sides are two windows, while the fifth window and the entrance are respectively in the flat sides. A Turkish narthex fronts one-half of the building. (Plate LV.)

Balaban Mesjedi, Plan of the Building-Section. Church of the Gastria, Plan of the Church.

Figs. 90, 91, and 92.

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.