Our Lady of Balikli Monastery, Turkey

Temple of Life-giving Spring in Istanbul – the Orthodox pearl of the city

Going on vacation in Turkey you should visit the acting Greek Orthodox Temple of Lifebearing Spring of Balikli Monastery. Turkey, being an ancient bastion of Orthodoxy, now a Muslim country, and a temple on its territory, of course, is one of the pearls of the ancient Tsargrad.

Each year here are making pilgrimages millions of tourists in order to see with their own eyes this historic religious structure, about the healing properties of which there are many legends. In this article we will tell about all the features of the temple and show some amateur pictures of tourists.

History of the foundation

According to a legend, the temple was founded by Emperor Leo I in the 5th century, after the Virgin Mary herself pointed out to him the place of the Life-bearing spring, when he was still a common soldier. There is an earlier legend, told by Procopius of Caesarea, which attributes the creation to Justinian I, when he was hunting, his attention was drawn to the crowd coming out of a small chapel, Justinian ordered to build a temple here, using for the construction materials left over from the construction of the cathedral of St. Sophia.

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Tekeli Mehmet Pasha Mosque was erected by order of the higher ranks for the common people, so that they too could have the opportunity to devote themselves to the faith. You will find the rest of the details on this site.

The temple has been destroyed and ravaged many times, it has been rebuilt many times and rebuilt from the ruins. The last reconstruction dates from 1835 but in 1955 it was destroyed during the Istanbul riots and subsequently rebuilt. Read more about temples in Istanbul here, and find information about palaces, mosques, and museums on their respective websites.

Miraculous spring

Miraculous spring

The life-giving spring that gave the temple its name became known for its miraculous properties. According to legend, the warrior Leo on his way to Constantinople met a blind old man who was thirsty. In search of water for him, Leo Marcellus, the future emperor, heard the voice of the Virgin Mary herself, who pointed him to a spring and ordered him to cover the blind man’s eyes with mud from it.

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After this, the blind man regained his sight. Seven years later, as had been prophesied, the emperor Marcian died, and his army chose Leo to reign. To legitimize the fact that a commoner of relatively low rank was declared emperor, an original solution was found: the crown was placed on the new emperor by Patriarch Anatoly himself, and the new lord of Constantinople became the first one to be crowned for reign by the Church.

Many other legends tell of various miraculous healings and even resurrections from the dead, thanks to the life-giving spring. Here is an icon of the Mother of God with a baby in her arms in a font, from which miraculous water pours out, and people who have been healed stand around. This is the centerpiece of the temple. You can read about the history of Constantinople here.

The water can be taken by any visitor, bottles of it stand around in abundance, and the story of miraculous healing is present in all the iconography around. Two marble stairs, each 25 steps long, lead to the spring. Water pours into a marble square bowl.

For a long time, there has been an annual procession of the cross here on Good Friday. Visitors are allowed only on special holidays, for example on Good Friday. About the holidays in Turkey read the article.

After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the temple was destroyed. But despite this, the spring did not cease to gush out of it and help the suffering.

In the inner courtyard there is a necropolis where important people of the monastery and some patriarchs of Constantinople are buried. The variety of monuments creates a special atmosphere around, with simple tombstones alongside richly carved busts. In the courtyard there is a plaque with the names of all the resting people.

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On the other side of the courtyard is paved with marble tombstones, the inscriptions on them are in Latin, Greek and Russian. The tombstones were brought during the population exchange between Turkey and Greece in 1924.

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On the territory there is an amazing atmosphere of peace and tranquility, in contrast to the hyperactive Istanbul, from which the temple is fenced off by high and impregnable walls. And, of course, it is impossible not to mention the Upper Temple of the Life-bearing Spring. It has three naves divided by columns, all icon painting adheres to the theme of the living spring, as already mentioned above. It itself is small, but very cozy with a unique atmosphere of purity and lightness. Useful information on how to behave in this Muslim country can be found here, as well as on entry rules for Russians – here.

Gallery

Photos of the Lively Spring will give you a brief, visual overview of the place.

Gallery

How to get there?

Address: Istanbul. Panagia Pege “Paella” church, Balikli manastiri. Coordinates: Latitude: 41° 0′ 23.64″N, Longitude: 28° 54′ 56.69″E Phone: +90 (212) 582-94-56.

How to get there

If you go by car, you should take the Silivrikapı-Mevlanakapı Yolu road along the western wall of Constantinople, up to the Silivrikapı Gate (Silivrikapı). (The second traffic light after the tunnel, at the intersection of Silivrikapı-Mevlanakapı and Millet Caddesi).Immediately after the traffic light, turn right into the city cemetery. It is not superfluous to know how to rent a car, to do this follow the link.

The sign on the pole next to the turn “Gasilhane”. Then go ahead till the first turn on the right, turn right and drive straight ahead till you reach the square near the Armenian cemetery, on your left you will find the entrance to the monastery. By public transportation you take the T1 streetcar to the Seyitnizam station and from there you pass the old Armenian cemetery and reach the walls of the monastery. To help you orient yourself we suggest you get acquainted with the street and district maps of Istanbul.

When visiting the monastery keep in mind that it is an active monastery. Do not go in the first door you see, it is unlikely to please its inhabitants. It is not necessary to pay for the visit, if you wish you can leave donations to the monastery and the temple of the Life-bearing spring. You can see the sights of Istanbul in the video in the article.

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Review: Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) – a stunning place with a holy spring

The Holy Spring, a life-giving spring, a quiet and peaceful place, a beautiful temple.

I will continue the story of a day in Istanbul. Our first destination was the Panorama Museum of 1453, which began our journey along the walls of Fedose. Next, our way was to the Balikli Monastery, which is Turkish for “fish” monastery. In fact, it is called the Greek Orthodox monastery of Our Lady. The monastery is known for its life-giving spring, which is famous for its miracles and has long been a Christian shrine. Many legends are associated with this spring. According to one of them, in the middle of the fifth century AD a young warrior, walking behind the city walls of Constantinople, met a thirsty blind man. The warrior pleaded with the Mother of God and unexpectedly heard a woman’s voice that commanded him to find a nearby spring, give the blind man water to drink, and wash his eyes. The soldier did everything that was commanded, the first – a miracle happened and the blind man recovered his sight. The warrior’s name was Leo. And then the second miracle happened, Our Lady addressed the warrior a second time: “Emperor Leo, don’t forget this place. A few years later this warrior became emperor of the Roman Empire. On the spot where he discovered the spring, he erected a temple

He ordered iconographers to make an icon of the Theotokos with the Child Jesus in his arms, and from her bosom the life-giving water was flowing, from which all who came in faith were healed.

The temple was many times exposed to destruction and fire as a result of the siege of Constantinople by various invaders (Arabs, Bulgarians, Avars, Crusaders, Ottomans), but the spring never dried up. However, despite the fact that the temple was repeatedly restored, by the sixteenth century nothing remained of the original church. But the flow of sufferers to the holy spring did not dry up, both Orthodox and Muslim. In 1833, with the permission of Sultan Mahmoud II, the Patriarchate of New Rome and the Church of Constantinople built a temple there that has survived to this day. The temple complex includes a convent, the necropolis of the patriarchs of Constantinople and the holy spring in the crypt. So, after walking from museum-panorama 1453 along the walls to the gates of Silivri kapa, we turned right and entered the territory of a large Muslim cemetery. It took another ten minutes to walk through the cemetery and we came to a small door, the entrance to the monastery. Only by the sign above the entrance we knew that this was a Greek Orthodox monastery. (I have pictures from two visits, time of year is different).

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Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

We enter the grounds and enter a small, cozy, bright courtyard. The attendant immediately pointed to the door on the right, which leads to the source. We go downstairs.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

And get into the crypt with the holy spring. The photo on the left shows bottles of holy water displayed in rows, which you can take with you. Four taps are also flowing with holy water. You can drink it and wash your face.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

View from above. The two photos are nine months apart. In the second one, the water level is much higher.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

On the second one, the water level is much higher.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Another legend tells of a Christian who was poisoned on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Constantinople. The journey was long and difficult, the Christian was of advanced age. He asked his fellow travelers to take him to the spring, whatever happened. The Christian passed away on the way, but his fellow travelers honored the request and brought him to the spring, poured holy water over him, and the man revived. He spent the rest of his life serving that church. Icon of the Lifebearing Spring. The icon depicts the source itself, the Virgin Mary and people being healed by the water.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

And another legend, telling of the appearance of the fish in the spring, and its second name “Fish Church”. In 1453, on the day of the fall of Constantinople, an elder was sitting by the spring frying fish. A novice came up to him and said that Constantinople had fallen, but the elder did not believe these words. He said that the fish that he was frying would sooner come to life than the great city would fall, then his pan turned over and the fish fell into the water and came to life. The fish do swim, even sometimes swim to the surface, and are orange in color with brown spots, as if they were fried)

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Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

There are icons and paintings on the walls of the crypt. There is a place to put a candle. No one takes money for candles, but there is a donation box. We put candles and dropped a few liras into the box.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

We went up the second staircase, and we got to the necropolis. Here, despite the fact that this is still a cemetery, it’s cozy and quiet.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Does not remind you of anything? ))

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Here are the tombs of patriarchs of Constantinople and people who made a significant contribution to the development and maintenance of the monastery.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

The church building. From outside it has an unremarkable facade.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

We go inside. On the left are the doors leading into the church itself. The second doors were closed, but the minister opened them especially for us and stood waiting while we looked around the church.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

The temple is in the Byzantine style, very beautiful inside.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Judging by the decoration, the icon is very important. But to my shame, I did not specify the name of the icon. Most likely, it is an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary “Annunciation”.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

The upper part of the iconostasis.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Painting on the arch.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Throne of the patriarch. No one is allowed to sit there except him.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

After walking around the church, it is time to go out to the entrance hall.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

We took a rest on a bench and started to examine the stoves that make up the yard. It turns out that these are tombstones, fitted close to each other. It turns out that many Christians wanted to be buried within the walls of the monastery, it was considered very honorable to be buried in Balykly. Only very worthy and well-to-do people could afford it. Among the slabs, we met some with inscriptions in Russian.

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

Balikli Monastery (Turkey, Istanbul) photo

The monastery itself makes a very favorable impression. More than one thousand years people prayed here, healed, miracles were made. Having been here twice people want to come back again and again.

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