14-century chapel used by tire shop in Istanbul, raising concerns

A 700-year-old chapel has survived the test of time in the historic Fatih district of Istanbul, a metropolis that has been home to many civilizations over centuries. But its current state in the courtyard of a tire shop raises concerns.

The chapel is believed to be part of Boğdan Sarayı or the Palace of Bogdania, an ancient Orthodox church built during the zantine era, according to historian Süleyman Faruk Göncüoğlu. The church, overlooking the Golden Horn, was used during Ottoman times by the Moldavian principality, which once ruled a vast region in central and eastern Europe, to host envoys.

Nowadays, the chapel is full of old and new tires, and tire shop owners claim they are “preserving” the chapel. “We built a roof and covered its perimeter with bricks to protect it,” said one of the owners, who declined to give his name.

Göncüoğlu said the chapel is a witness to history and a significant piece of architecture for those studying the city’s history. “People here are not aware of its significance, but for us, it provides an insight into the ancient architecture with its stone carving and brick structure,” he said.