Molla Fenari Isa Mosque (Constantine Lips Monastery), Located in the Fatih district of Istanbul, on Vatan Avenue, this building was constructed on a former early Roman graveyard; it was built in 907 during the reign of Emperor Leon VI on the orders of the Byzantine Admiral Konstantinos Lips. The building therefore is also known as Lips Monastery.
Constantine Lips Monastery History and Architecture
At the point where Vatan Street and Halıcılar Street intersect, it is ten minutes walking distance away from Aksaray Square. The structure that served as a church during Byzantine times was turned into a mosque in Ottoman period and with the fire that took palace in 1918, it waited for long years in ruined condition. After the restoration that was carried out in 1960, it was opened to service as a mosque. It consists of two adjacent churches built in different times and two graveyard chapels. The first church at the north by Navy Commander Constantine Lips was opened in June 907 with a glorious ceremony and the participation of Leon VI.
Theodora, the wife of Micheal Palaiologos VII (1261- 1282) had the second church built adjecent to the south wall of the current church. The paracciesion (a chapel leaning to the side of the church) additional chapel in “L” shape covering the West and South of the church was built in 14th century and the complex became even larger. Over the two churches rise domes with high tambours. The inner location with out paint does not have any ornamental features within.
One important architectural feature is that the dome is surrounded by four chapels. Because of its unique architectural style, many prestigious architectural schools offer courses about the plan of the building and its structural charecteristics. Lip Monastery is unlike other Byzantine churches that were converted into mosques after the conquest of Istanbul. The Christians left the church around 1481 – 1512, under the reign of Beyazid II. It is known to have been converted into a mosque under the regulations of “rejuvenation of the unused Byzantine churches.” It is known that at this time Fenari Ali Efendi of the ulema (religious scholars) converted it into a dervish lodge. In the reign of Sultan Murad IV, Sheikh Isa Mahvi initiated the use of the monastery rooms for seclued worship, a characteristic of the Khalwati Sufi order. Thus, the current name of the mosque is a combination of the names Fenari and Isa.
Inside the apses along the walls that have windows there are marble works, geometric designs and figures of peacocks. The original structure was built as a complex, but most of this has collapsed. The east part of the mosque was used as a madrasa during the time of Yavuz Sultan Selim. The current Şadiye Hatun Medical Clinic is in the annex. The mosque is still open for public worship.