Blachernae (Greek: Βλαχέρναι) was a suburb in the northwestern section of Constantinople, the capital city of the Byzantine Empire. It is the site of a water source and a number of prominent churches were built there, most notably the great Church of St. Mary of Blachernae (Panagia Blacherniotissa), built by Empress Pulcheria in c. 450, expanded by Emperor Leo I (r. 457–474) and renovated by Emperor Justinian I (r. 527–565) in the 6th century.[1]


The Romanian philologist Ilie Gherghel wrote a study about Blachernae and concluded that it possibly derived from the name of a Vlach (sometimes written as Blach or Blasi), who came to Constantinople from the lower Danube, a region named today Dobruja.[2] Gherghel compared data from old historians like Genesios and from the Greek lexicon Suidas and mentioned the existence of a small colony of Vlachs in the area of today Blachernae. Similar opinions were sustained by Lisseanu[3]. The name Blachernae appeared in a work of Theophanes the Confessor in connection with a revolt of Flavius Vitalianus against Emperor Anastasius I in 513.[4]

According to Ilie Gherghel, the word vlach became known in the Germanic and Slavic world through the Vikings that came in contact with the Byzantine Empire. The byzantine origin of the word vlach is supported by the historian Stelian Brezeanu who considers that one of the first accounts about Romanians south of the Danube, referred to by the name vlachorynchini (the vlachs near the Rynchos river), is present in a historical account about the Kastamonitou Monastery which was written in the 17th century but based on a 9th century byzantine source[5].

Byzantine era

The quarter is recorded as regio XIV in the early 5th-century Notitia Urbis Constantinopolitanae, where it is recorded as being enclosed by a wall of its own.[6] The quarter was connected to the city proper at the construction of the Theodosian Walls, but the Church of St. Mary remained outside of the walls until 627, when Emperor Heraclius (r. 610–641) built another wall to enclose it.[1] By that time, the church had become the major Marian shrine of the city,[1] and the second-most important church in Constantinople after Hagia Sophia, if only because the emperors' residence was nearby. In 1347, Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos (r. 1347–1354) was crowned there, instead of at Hagia Sophia.

South of the church and situated on the city's Seventh Hill stood the imperial Palace of Blachernae, which was first erected in c. 500. During the Komnenian period, it became the favourite imperial residence, eclipsing the older Great Palace of Constantinople on the eastern end of the city.[1] Although the Latin emperors returned to the Bucoleon Palace, the Palaiologos emperors of the restored Byzantine Empire again used the Blachernae Palace as their main residence.[1] The Palace of the Porphyrogenitus (Turkish: Tekfur Sarayı) and the so-called Prison of Anemas are the main surviving structures of the Palace of Blachernae, which was a complex of multiple buildings.

Following the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in May 1453, the Sultan's residence was moved to Topkapı Palace on the site of the ancient acropolis of Byzantium, opposite to the original site of the Great Palace, which had by this time fallen into complete ruin, and the Blachernae area (with the exception of the Palace of Porphyrogenitus) fell into disuse.

During the Byzantine Papacy, the portion of the Aventine overlooking the Greek quarter of Rome became known as the ad Balcernas or Blachernas.[7]


The historic Blachernae area is in the present-day Istanbul quarter known as Ayvansaray. The sacred spring, associated with the Virgin Mary, can still be visited today; in Turkish it is named Ayazma, a name derived from the Greek term hagiasma (Greek: ἁγίασμα), meaning "holy water".



Our Lady of Blachernae, an icon of the Theotokos from the church of the Blachernae.

Byzantine Constantinople-en

Byzantine-era Constantinople.

Emperor Theophilus visits St Mary of Blachernae

Byzantine emperor Theophilus (r. 829–842), on horseback, visits the Church of St. Mary in the Constantinopolitan suburb of Blachernae.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Kazhdan 1991, p. 293.
  2. ^ Gherghel 1920, p. 4-8
  3. ^ G. Popa Lisseanu, Continuitatea românilor în Dacia, Editura Vestala, Bucuresti, 2014, p.78
  4. ^ Theophanes Confessor. In: Fontes Historiae Daco-Romanae, București, Institutul de studii Sud-Est Europene, 1970, p.599
  5. ^ Stelian Brezeanu, O istorie a Bizanțului, Editura Meronia, București, 2005, p. 126
  6. ^ van Millingen 1899, p. 119.
  7. ^ Ekonomou, Andrew J. 2007. Byzantine Rome and the Greek Popes: Eastern influences on Rome and the papacy from Gregory the Great to Zacharias, A.D. 590–752, page 42. Lexington Books.


  • Kazhdan, Alexander Petrovich, ed. (1991). Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. New York, New York and Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6.
  • van Millingen, Alexander (1899). Byzantine Constantinople: The Walls of the City and Adjoining Historical Sites. London, United Kingdom: John Murray.

Further reading

  • Gherghel, Ilie (1920). (Romanian) Cateva consideratiuni la cuprinsul notiunii cuvantului "Vlach". Bucuresti: Convorbiri Literare.

External links

Coordinates: 41°02′02″N 28°56′25″E / 41.03389°N 28.94028°E

Atik Mustafa Pasha Mosque

Atik Mustafa Pasha Mosque (Turkish: Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii; also named Hazreti Cabir Camii) is a former Eastern Orthodox church in Istanbul, converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. The dedication of the church is obscure. For a long time it has been identified with the church of Saints Peter and Mark, but without any proof. Now it seems more probable that the church is to be identified with Saint Thekla of the Palace of Blachernae (Greek: Άγία Θέκλα τοῦ Παλατίου τῶν Βλαχερνών, Hagia Thekla tou Palatiou tōn Vlakhernōn). The building belongs stylistically to the eleventh-twelfth century.


Ayvansaray is a neighborhood in Istanbul, Turkey. It is part of the district of Fatih and part of the walled city. It lies between the southern shore of the Golden Horn, the Blachernae section of the Walls, and the neighborhoods of Balat and Edirnekapı. It corresponds to the old quarter of Blachernae (Vlachérnai in Greek). The name Ayvansaray is from Persian ایوان‌سرای (Iwan + Saray) and means "Veranda Palace". This name hearkens back to the Palace of Alexios I Komnenos (now disappeared), which was part of the complex of Blachernae.Ayvansaray has a number of historic monuments, like the Palace of the Porphyrogenitus (Tekfur Palace), the mosque of Atik Mustafa Pasha (originally a medieval Byzantine church), and the Ayazma ("holy spring") enclosed in the small church of St. Mary of Blachernae. It is a picturesque quarter.

Balat, Fatih

Balat is the traditional Jewish quarter in the Fatih district of Istanbul. It is located on the European side of Istanbul, in the old city on the historic peninsula, on the western bank of the Golden Horn. (Another Istanbul neighborhood deeply associated with Jewish settlement is Kuzguncuk on the Asian shore.) In the present day, the ruins of Poli Yashan ("Old City"), a former Jewish synagogue, are in this neighborhood. Some of the congregation of Poli Yashan went on to found the Poli Hadash, the latter name being a mix of Greek and Hebrew terms that means "New City".The name Balat is probably derived from Greek palation (palace), from Latin palatiumcode: lat promoted to code: la , after the nearby Palace of Blachernae.


Blachernitissa (Greek: Βλαχερνίτισσα), also called Theotokos of Blachernae (Θεοτόκος των Βλαχερνών, Θεοτόκος η Βλαχερνίτισσα) or Our Lady of Blachernae (Παναγία η Βλαχερνίτισσα), is a 7th-century encaustic icon representing the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. It is also the name given to the Church built in honour of the Virgin Mary in the Blachernae section of Constantinople. The name Blachernae possibly derived from the name of a Vlach (sometimes written as Blach or Blasi), who came to Constantinople from the lower Danube

Church of St. Mary of Blachernae (Istanbul)

Saint Mary of Blachernae (full name in Greek: Θεοτόκος των Βλαχερνών (pr. Theotókos ton Vlachernón); Turkish name: Meryem Ana Kilisesi) is an Eastern Orthodox church in Istanbul. The little edifice, built in 1867, got the same dedication as the shrine erected in this place in the fifth century which, until its destruction in 1434, was one of the most important sanctuaries of Greek Orthodoxy.

Council of Blachernae (1094)

The Council of Blachernae was convened in late 1094 by the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos and held in Constantinople at Blachernae Palace in order to resolve the case of Leo of Chalcedon.

Council of Constantinople (1285)

The Council of Constantinople or Council of Blachernae was an Eastern Orthodox council, convened in 1285 in the Blachernae Palace in Constantinople. Under the presidency of the Patriarch of Constantinople, Gregory II, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria Athanasius III, and Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos, the council repudiated the Union of the Churches under the Council of Lyons (1274), and condemned the pro-Unionist patriarch John XI Bekkos.

Crusader attack on Blachernae (1101)

As in the First Crusade, the pilgrims and soldiers did not leave as a part of one large army, but rather in several groups from various different regions from across Western Europe. In September 1100, a large group of Lombards left from Milan. These were mostly untrained peasants, led by Anselm IV, Archbishop of Milan. When they reached the territory of the Byzantine Empire, they recklessly pillaged the countryside in want of food and provisions until the Byzantine emperor Alexios I, possibly under force of arms, escorted them to a camp outside Constantinople. This did not satisfy them for long, as they forced their way inside the city where they pillaged the Blachernae palace, even killing Alexios' pet lion. In order to limit any further damage, the Lombards were quickly ferried across the Bosporus and made their camp at Nicomedia, to wait for additional Crusading reinforcements.

Edirnekapı, Fatih

Edirnekapı is a quarter of Istanbul, Turkey. It is part of the district of Fatih and belongs to the walled city.

It corresponds roughly to the central part of the sixth Hill of Istanbul, which is the highest point of the walled city. It lies south of the Blachernae section of the Walls and of the neighborhood of Ayvansaray, northwest of Karagümrük and west of Salmatomruk. The quarter corresponds to the Byzantine quarter of Deuteron. The name Edirnekapı ("Gate of Edirne") hearkens back to Edirne's Gate (the ancient Gate of Charisius), crossed by the old road, which led to Edirne, the ancient Adrianople in Thracia. The district had a significant percentage of Orthodox Christian population, which left it for more central areas after 1955.The quarter is crossed by Fevzi Paşa Caddesi, one of the most important roads of the historic part of Istanbul.

Great Palace of Constantinople

The Great Palace of Constantinople (Greek: Μέγα Παλάτιον, Méga Palátion; Latin: Palatium Magnum, Turkish: Büyük Saray), also known as the Sacred Palace (Greek: Ἱερὸν Παλάτιον, Hieròn Palátion; Latin: Sacrum Palatium), was the large Imperial Byzantine palace complex located in the south-eastern end of the peninsula now known as Old Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), in modern Turkey. It served as the main royal residence of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine emperors from 330 to 1081 and was the center of imperial administration for over 690 years. Only a few remnants and fragments of its foundations have survived into the present day.

Gregory II of Constantinople

Gregory II of Cyprus (Greek: Γρηγόριος ο Κύπριος, 1241–1290) was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople between 1283–1289.

Gregory was born in Lapithos, Cyprus. His name was originally George. His parents were middle class but of noble origin. He moved to Nicosia as a teenager seeking further education. Not satisfied by the level of education provided by local teachers in Greek, he became a student at a Latin school (available then as Cyprus was a Crusader kingdom). He had difficulty learning Latin and thus got only a superficial knowledge of grammar and Aristotle's Logic.

Still determined to get a decent education, he got on a ship to Acre, Palestine, where he arrived after three days. From there he travelled to Anaea in Asia Minor and finally made it to Mount Galesios near Ephesos. He had heard a lot about the scholar Nicephorus Blemmydes but was disappointed by him and moved to Nicaea where he studied with George Acropolites. With the recapture of Constantinople by Nicaean forces in 1261, he moved there. Later he became a teacher, his students including Nikephoros Choumnos.

He became patriarch in 1283. The orthodox and the catholic churches had proclaimed their union in 1274 in the Second Council of Lyons, motivated more by the emperor's politics than by theological arguments. Gregory, contrary to his predecessor refused to accept the filioque clause added to the Nicene creed by the Roman Catholics. Gregory spoke of an eternal manifestation of the Spirit by the Son. Gregory's formula has been considered an Orthodox "answer" to the filioque, though it does not have the status of official Orthodox doctrine. Gregory's perception of Trinity was endorsed by the council of Blachernae in 1285.

He wrote collections of proverbs and his autobiography.

Nicholas III of Constantinople

Nicholas III Grammatikos or Grammaticus (? – May 1111) was an Eastern Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople (1084–1111).

Educated in Constantinople, Nicholas spent much of his early years in Pisidian Antioch, where it is believed he took his monastic vows. He eventually left the city around 1068 when it was threatened by Seljuk Turkish raids. Moving to Constantinople, he founded a monastery dedicated to John the Baptist. In 1084, Alexios I Komnenos selected him to replace the deposed patriarch Eustratius Garidas.

By nature a conciliarist, Nicholas was immediately presented with a number of delicate and difficult issues. He took the emperor's side in the case of Leo of Chalcedon, who protested over Alexios' confiscation of church treasures to alleviate the financial strain the Byzantine-Norman Wars had caused, which was resolved when he presided over the Council of Blachernae. He was also prominent in the fight against doctrinal heresy, for instance Nicholas condemned as heretical the Bogomil leader Basil the Physician. But he was very cautious in the ongoing conflict between the provincial metropolitans and the Patriarchate. In spite of some hostile opposition from the clergy of Hagia Sophia, he ended up supporting Niketas of Ankyra against the emperor's right to elevate metropolitans, and exerted a great deal of energy trying to restrict the influence of the Chartophylax. Nicholas was also very concerned with ecclesiastical discipline. He wrote a monastic Rule for Mount Athos monastery, while ordering the removal of the Vlachs from Mount Athos. He also rigorously enforced the regulations around fasting.

Meanwhile, the ongoing political situation in the Byzantine Empire especially in Anatolia after the disaster of the Battle of Manzikert forced Nicholas to seek a union with Pope Urban II, though he was firm in his views about the major contentious issues of the day, principally the Filioque, the azymes, and Papal Primacy.

Nicholas died in April or May 1111 at Constantinople.

Palace of Blachernae

The Palace of Blachernae (Greek: τὸ ἐν Βλαχέρναις Παλάτιον) was an imperial Byzantine residence in the suburb of Blachernae, located in the northwestern section of Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey). The area of the palace is now mostly overbuilt, and only literary sources are available as to its description.

Palace of the Porphyrogenitus

The Palace of the Porphyrogenitus (Greek: τὸ Παλάτιον τοῦ Πορφυρογεννήτου), known in Turkish as the Tekfur Sarayı ("Palace of the Sovereign"), is a late 13th-century Byzantine palace in the north-western part of the old city of Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey). An annex of the greater palace complex of Blachernae, it is the best preserved of the three Byzantine palaces to survive in the city (together with the ruins of the Boukoleon Palace; and the ruins of the Great Palace of Constantinople with its surviving substructures, retrieved mosaics and standing Magnaura section), and one of the few relatively intact examples of late Byzantine secular architecture in the world.

Pietro Gradenigo

Pietro Gradenigo (1251 – 13 August 1311) was the 49th Doge of Venice, reigning from 1289 to his death.

When he was elected Doge, he was serving as the podestà of Capodistria in Istria. Venice suffered a serious blow with the fall of Acre, the last Crusader stronghold in the Holy Land, to the Mamluks of Egypt in 1291. A war between Venice and Genoa began in 1294, and Venice sustained some serious losses: it lost a naval battle, its possessions in Crete were pillaged and the Byzantine emperor, Andronikos II, arrested many Venetians in Constantinople. In response, the Venetian fleet sacked Galata and threatened the imperial palace of Blachernae, but in 1298 they lost again - this time at Curzola. Eventually, in 1299 the two republics signed a peace treaty.

Doge Gradenigo was responsible for the so-called Serrata del Maggior Consiglio, the Locking of the Great Council of Venice. This new law, passed in February 1297, restricted membership of the future Councils only to the descendants of those nobles who were its members between 1293 and 1297. This move created an oligarchic system, disenfranchising a great majority of the citizens and provoking some unrest.

In 1308, during Gradenigo's reign as doge, Venice became involved in war with the Papacy over the control of Ferrara and on 27 March 1309 the Republic was excommunicated by Pope Clement V, barring all Christians from trading with Venice. The Doge's policy, seen by many as disastrous, led to a plot to depose him and the Great Council, led by Bajamonte Tiepolo and other members of the aristocratic families. On 15 June 1310, the coup failed and its leaders were severely punished. Tiepolo's plot led to the creation of the Council of Ten, initially as a temporary institution, which later evolved into the permanent body which in reality governed the Republic.

On 13 August 1311, Gradenigo died, and, since Venice was under interdict and the religious ceremonies could not be held, he was buried in an unmarked grave on Murano.He was married first to Tomasina Morosini (with whom he had a daughter, Anna, wife of Jacopo I da Carrara) and then to Agnese Zantani.

St. Mary of Blachernae Church (Berat)

The St. Mary of Blachernae Church (Albanian: Kisha e Shën Mëri Vllahernës) is a Byzantine church in Berat, Albania. It is named after the famous Church of St. Mary of Blachernae, near the Palace of Blachernae in Constantinople. It is believed that the church was built on the foundations of a ruined 5th century church that existed at the same place. The church is regarded as one of Berat's most important historical and architectural monuments and is a key tourist attraction for both Berat and Albania.

The church dates mainly from the 13th century and contains impressive frescoes and icons on its interior walls and ground from the 16th century. The paintings that dates from the 16th century were mostly produced by Nicholas Onufri, the son of the more famous Onufri.The church has a rectangular narthex.

Theodore II (exarch)

Theodore II was Exarch of Ravenna (677–687).

Theodore succeeded Gregory in 677. He is recorded as confirming the election of Conon as Pope on 21 October 686.A pious man, Theodore patronized the Archbishop of Ravenna during his tenure. The historian Andreas Agnellus describes his gifts to the churches of St. Theodore the Deacon and St. Mary of Blachernae and records that the Exarch was buried with his wife in the second monastery. He was, in turn, followed by John II Platyn in 687.

Toklu Dede Mosque

Toklu Dede Mosque (Turkish: Toklu Dede Mescidi, where mescit is the Turkish word for a small mosque), was an Ottoman mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. The building was originally a Byzantine Eastern Orthodox church of unknown dedication. It was almost completely destroyed in 1929.

Walls of Constantinople

The Walls of Constantinople are a series of defensive stone walls that have surrounded and protected the city of Constantinople (today Istanbul in Turkey) since its founding as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Constantine the Great. With numerous additions and modifications during their history, they were the last great fortification system of antiquity, and one of the most complex and elaborate systems ever built.

Initially built by Constantine the Great, the walls surrounded the new city on all sides, protecting it against attack from both sea and land. As the city grew, the famous double line of the Theodosian Walls was built in the 5th century. Although the other sections of the walls were less elaborate, they were, when well-manned, almost impregnable for any medieval besieger, saving the city, and the Byzantine Empire with it, during sieges from the Avar-Sasanian coalition, Arabs, Rus', and Bulgars, among others. The advent of gunpowder siege cannons rendered the fortifications vulnerable, but cannon technology was not sufficiently advanced to capture the city on its own, and the walls could be repaired between reloading. Ultimately, the city fell from the sheer weight of numbers of the Ottoman forces on 29 May 1453 after a six-week siege.

The walls were largely maintained intact during most of the Ottoman period, until sections began to be dismantled in the 19th century, as the city outgrew its medieval boundaries. Despite the subsequent lack of maintenance, many parts of the walls survived and are still standing today. A large-scale restoration program has been under way since the 1980s.

Black Sea
Central Anatolia
Eastern Anatolia


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