St Polycarp Church dates from the mid-1600s and is Izmir’s oldest church. Dedicated to Saint Polycarp, a bishop who was martyred by the Romans in 155 AD, the church was been repeatedly damaged by earthquakes and its present building dates from 1690.
Saint Polycarp was converted by John the Apostle and later became Bishop of Smyrna. His views on Christianity were apparently not appreciated by his Roman overlords, who tried to burn the 86-year-old Bishop at the stake. Legend has it, the flames would not burn Bishop, so the Romans resorted to stabbing him to death instead. A white dove is said to have flown up into the sky from the spot where he died.
The Church is now used by the catholic minority as a place of worship and pilgrimage. The murals were restored at the beginning of the century by the French architect Raymond Pee.
St. Polycarp Church is across from the Izmir Hilton. Only tour groups are allowed to enter the church by prior arrangment.