Church of Holy Peace (Hagia Irene) (Constantinople/Istanbul) (early AD 300s)

Constantine the Great com- missioned the building of the Church of Holy Peace (Hagia Irene) in the early 300s. The first church of Constantinople, it was dedicated to God’s attribute of peace, not to a Christian saint.

The Second Ecumenical Church Council of 381 was held in the Church of Holy Peace, where the final version of the Nicene Creed was written.

The church was burned down during the Nike riots in 532, but emperor Justinian rebuilt it as a domed basilica in 548. After the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453, the church was enclosed inside the walls of the Topkapı palace.

The Church of Holy Peace is the only church in Constantinople that has never been turned into a mosque. Initially, it was used as a military armory. In 1978, the church was used for special events and as a hall for classical music concerts. Since January 2014, the church has been a museum that is open to visitors. Inside there is a large cross with a gold mosaic back- ground above the altar.

The inner arch’s inscription is from Psalm 64:4-5: “We will all be filled with the good things of your house; holy is your temple, wonderful in righteousness. Listen to us, O God our Savior; the hope of all the ends of the earth and in the distant sea.” The outer arch’s inscription is from Amos 9:6, “The Lord builds his ascent to heaven and establishing his promise on the earth; the Lord Almighty is his name.”