This church was founded in 1282 by Mary, the illegitimate daughter of Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus after her return to Istanbul from Persia following the death of her husband, a Great Khan of the Mongols. Mary also founded a convent here where she spent her twilight years as a nun. The church was the only Christian place of worship to be spared closure by Fatih Sultan Mehmet after the Conquest, and so is the oldest surviving continuously functioning church in Istanbul. It is not usually open to the public, but you can try ringing the bell and petitioning the groundskeeper.
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