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Tucked between the quarters of Galata and Tophane in the Kumbaracı Yokuşu neighborhood, on a street that reminds one of Orhan Pamuk's melancholic image of Istanbul with its old, dark and partially deteriorating houses, is Turkey's finest example of Neo French Gothic architecture: Christ Church.
Established in 1558 and designed by George Edmund Street, the architect famous for designing London's Royal Courts of Justice, Christ Church is part of Istanbul's Anglican Chaplaincy. The massive building was constructed between 1858 and 1868 on property that had been given to the British Crown by Sultan Abdülmecit to provide a place of worship for the British community around Galata. It served to commemorate the victims of the Crimean War that took place from 1853 - 1856 between the French-British-Ottoman allies, and Russia. Interestingly, the church shares a boundary with its neighboring mosque, which is unique in itself.
“In spite of being just a few minutes from the international atmosphere of İstiklal Street, the daily interaction takes place within the context of village culture, with each of the kahvehanes (coffee houses) representing different places of Turkey,” said Ian Sherwood, the church's chaplain. Sherwood is also in charge of the British Consulate Chaplaincy, which received much attention following the Nov. 2003 bombing.
“Apart from friendly encounters on the street between devout Muslims and the various Christians who come to Christ Church, there is unfortunately no interaction with the imam of the neighborhood,” he said.
The Anglican Church is of less dogmatic character than the Roman Catholic Church, with its liturgy in the English language being provided for people of different faiths every Sunday morning.
“At the moment our visitors come from more than 15 different nations, among them not only Anglicans but also Roman Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, and also some interested Muslims,” he said. . .
Friday, August 31, 2007
From the Turkish Daily News: