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Zeyrek Camii
(Christos ho Pantokrator)


The Zeyrek Camii (Christos ho Pantokrator) consists of three adjoining churches built by Eirene and John II Komnenos ca. 1118-1136. Although well-known and majestically situated, the building is lacking a comprehensive study and is in desperate need of a restoration. Recently Mayor Tantan of the Fatiye Belediyesi (the local city hall) undertook a highly publicized program of neighborhood improvement. A few of the ramshackle wooden houses around the building have been given facelifts, but apparently without interior improvements. The house immediately to the west of the Zeyrek has been completely reconstructed to become a neighborhood "learning center." It still contains the Ottoman period fountain or "ayazma" in the basement, which remains unexplored.

More significantly, the vacant lot to the north of the Zeyrek has been used fro the construction of a new clinic. Foundations were dug to a depth of at least 4 m., intersecting the Byzantine layer, where foundations and water pipes were removed without record (see black-and-white photo above. Following the typikon of the Pantocrator monastery, access to the public street must have been on this side of the building. Unfortunately, no effort was made to understand the relationship of the uncovered elements to the existing Byzantine structures. As of winter 1997, the clinic is close to completion. The typikon also records that a hospital was part of the monastery, so the construction of a clinic seems somehow appropriate.

Also critical is the 1996 paving of all the streets around the building, with the paving stones extended to the facades on the east, north, and west sides, creating a situation for additional damage and drainage problems --on the west side, the paving slopes toward the main entrance of the building. Much of this work was not apporved by the historic sites commission of Istanbul, but proceded anyway.

A restoration and study of the building has been proposed by M.Ahunbay, Z. Ahunbay (Istanbul Technical University), and R. Ousterhout (University of Illinois). Most important to the success of the restoration is securing the building against man and the elements. The structure appears stable--it was recently examined by a structural engineer--but requires a new lead roof, and all of its 99 or more windows must be replaced with sturdy, unbreakable materials. Although the proposal has been accepted "in principle" by the Vakiflar Genel Müdürlügü (Ministry of Mosques), the success of the project depends on the location of outside funding. Recently the World Monuments Fund has added their support to the project.