Istanbul’s Church of St George has been the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople since 1600. Since the fall of the Ottomans, the Greek population of Istanbul has largely emigrated, so today it’s more of a symbolic center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate than anything else, but the spiritual leader of the world’s 260 million Greek Orthodox, Bartholomew I, continues to hold services here, and Orthodox Christians from Greece and across Eastern Europe stream though the church as pilgrims.
With its 19th-century neo-Classical facade which was constructed after severe fire damage, the church may look modest on the outside, but go inside and it’s a different story. Notice the Patriarch’s marble throne at the center of the altar, the huge chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and gold everything. Inside you’ll also find beautiful mosaic icons, and over the altar look out for the two-headed Byzantine Eagle. Just behind the church you can see the offices of the Patriarchate as well as the Patriarchate Library.
On Yavuz Sultan Selim Mh in the Fener district of Turkey, the Ecumencial Orthodox Patriarchate church is open to the public from 8:30am to 4pm, but strict security screening is in place. Donations are welcome.