Istanbul Walking Tour Highlights: Church of Santa Maria Draperi, Church of St. Anthony and Church of Saint Esprit.
There are around 35,000 Catholics in Turkey. Majority live in Istanbul. During our walking tours of Istanbul for the ones who are interested we visit some of the active Roman Catholic churches of Istanbul.:
Church of St. Mary Draperis
An active Roman Catholic Church located at Istiklal Avenue. Current building was built in 1769. During the 19th century Church of St. Mary Draperis became one of the most prestigious Catholic Churches in the city of Istanbul. The church is still run by reformed Franciscan Friars who offer daily masses in Italian and mass in Spanish every Sunday. In the main altar of the church visitors can notice the icon of the Virgin Mary from 16th century from the house of Clara Maria Draperis which the church was named after her. Clara Maria Draperis donated her house with a tiny chapel to Franciscan Friars of Constantinapolis in the 16th century.
Church of St. Anthony
Largest active Roman Catholic Church of Istanbul. The original church was built in 1725 by the local Italian catholic community of Istanbul, but was later demolished and replaced with the current building which was constructed on the same location. The current church of St. Anthony, along with its adjacent buildings on Istiklal Avenue, was built in 1906 in the Venetian Neo-Gothic style. Pope Giovanni XXIII, preached in this church for 10 years, when he was the Vatican's Ambassador to Turkey before being elected as Pope. He is known in Turkey with the nickname "The Turkish Pope" because of his fluent Turkish and his often expressed love for Turkey and the city of Istanbul.
Cathedral of Saint Esprit
Also known as the Cathedral of Holy Spirit. In 1846 built by the famous architect brothers Giuseppe and Gaspard Fossati who built Russian Colsulate, Dutch consulate and restored Hagia Sophia. Today It is one of the principal active Catholic Churches of Istanbul. It is the second largest Roman Catholic church in the city after St. Anthony at the Istiklal Avenue. Built in Baroque style. St. Esprit has been a destination of several papal visits to Turkey, including those of Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI. A statue of Pope Benedict XV stands in the courtyard of the cathedral. Giuseppe Donizetti, a musician at the court of Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II, is buried in the vaults of the church.
Giuseppe Donizetti who started to be called Donizetti Pasha later played a significant role in the introduction of European music to the Ottoman military. Apart from the training of the European-style military bands of Ottoman`s modern army, he taught music at the palace to the members of the Ottoman royal family. Donizetti Pasha is believed to have composed the first national anthem of the Ottoman Empire, supported the annual Italian opera season in Pera, organised concerts and operatic performances to famous visitors visiting Istanbul.
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