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Church of St. Polyeuktos

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avatar J8054
Level 47 : Master Architect
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The Church of St. Polyeuktos was a large church built by Anicia Juliana in the 520s. Built before Justinian’s major building program that included Hagia Sophia, it was one of the largest and most sumptuously decorated churches in Constantinople. It seems to have been abandoned by the 13th century and its ruins were discovered in 1960.
The Church of St. Polyeuktos was accidentally discovered in 1960 during the construction of an overpass in Saraçhane, Istanbul. Excavations uncovered the foundations of a church along with a large number of richly carved architectural blocks. Sections of archaeological remains had inscriptions which match an epigram from a work known as the Greek Anthology. This allowed for its identification with Hagia Polyeuktos.
The church is in the vicinity of the Aqueduct of Valens and the Column of Marcian. It was on the northern branch of the Mese, between the Forum Tauri and the Church of the Holy Apostles. It was built near the palace of Anicia Juliana, who commissioned the church. Anicia Juliana, the daughter and granddaughter of emperors, was an important aristocratic woman during the reigns of Anastasius, Justin and Justinian.
This church replaced an earlier, small church dedicated to St. Polyeuktos by Empress Aelia Eudocia, wife of Theodosius II. St. Polyeuktos, to whom the church was dedicated, was a Roman soldier martyred around 250 in the garrison-town of Melitene (modem Malatya, Turkey). Other churches dedicated to him are recorded in Melitene, Jerusalem, and Ravenna. It seems that it housed the relic of St. Polyeuktos (his head) which was later moved to the Church of the Holy Apostles. The church was modeled on the Temple of Solomon as described in the Bible.
The Book of Ceremonies informs us that Hagios Polyeuktos was included on the emperor’s Easter procession from the palace to the Church of the Holy Apostles. It was certainly in existence at the end of the tenth century as it is referred to as existing five hundred years later. There appears to be no later mention of our church, which may mean that it was abandoned during the Latin occupation.
Much of its valuable materials have been looted, while pieces of architectural material have been used in the construction of other Constantinopolitan churches, such as the Pantokrator Monastery. The Crusaders, during the sack of Constantinople in 1204, stole some of these valuable pieces, transporting them as far as Venice, Barcelona and Vienna. The so-called Pilastri Acritani, which stand near the southwest corner of the Basilica of San Marco in Venice comes from St. Polyeuktos.
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03/29/2020 4:31 pm
Level 23 : Expert Architect
AR1400
Amazing, I am in awe of this!
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