Displaying all the architectural features of the Justinian I period, Hagia Eirene, meaning “Holy Peace,” consists of a main sanctuary, a narthex and an atrium. The transition from the basilica to the closed-cross form is one of the most typical architectural characteristics of the period. Though the atrium, narrowed during the Ottoman period, has departed from its original form, Hagia Eirene is important as the only church with an atrium in İstanbul to survive to the present day. The four-tiered pedestal in the dome depicts Golgotha hill where Christ was crucified, and the broad cross ascending above it depicts Jesus. In the main sanctuary are floor mosaics in two sections, most probably remaining from two structures built during the period of Constantine I, which are the earliest examples of Byzantine art. In the upper right gallery of Hagia Eirene are late period frescoes depicting holy figures. These provide sound evidence that during the late Byzantine period, the church was embellished with frescoes, for the reason that they were easier to execute and more economical than mosaics. After the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmet the Conqueror, Hagia Eirene fell within the walls encircling the Topkap ı Palace , and was used as munitions depot.
Today, it is used for a variety of concerts and exhibitions, foremost of which is the İstanbul International Music Festival.
Recital Programme of pianist Gabriela Montero:
Works by Bach/Busoni, Bach/Liszt and improvisations on baroque pieces
International Istanbul Music Festival Web Site
Detailed schedule information: