Church of the Virgin Paramythia - 'Vlach Saray'
The «most beautiful ruins» in the City, if one takes the liberty in speaking of ruins to call them beautiful.
The entire district that includes the church, close by the Metochi of the Holy Sepulchre in the Phanar, was once owned by the rulers of Wallachia. Their palaces, the "Saraya of Vlachia ", stood in the same quarter and so the church became widely known as Vlach Saray. The Constantinopolitan Ghikas, Soutsos and Cantacouzinos families used to attend this church, among them omnipotent individuals like Michail Cantacouzinos 'Seitanoglou' (Son of the Devil). The latter was a close friend of the Grand Vizier Sokoli (1560-1575) and holder of the salt monopoly. Cantacouzinos was destined one day, when his fortunes were in decline, to be hanged on the order of Mural IΙΙ from the great gate of the palace he owned at Anchialo.
The church has a long and tragic history, undergoing frequent destruction and restoration. It was burnt down in 1640 and again in 1729. Rebuilt in 1730 it was saved, as if by a miracle, from another conflagration at the end of the 18th century. It was again rebuilt in the mid 19th century only to be wholly destroyed by fire in 1970.
The visitor who manages to penetrate the ruined area, now that the level approach from the rear is no longer feasible because the neighbourhood grocer has turned it into a storage space for his wooden crates, will feel his heart miss a beat as he reflects that for a decade at the end of the 16th century the Patriarchate was established here and the local Synod of 1595 met in this place.
Leaving the site for the Golden Horn, the thought crosses the mind that it would be a blessing indeed if this venerable ruin were restored from its very foundations.
Churches in Constantinople
Nikos Ghinis – Constantinos Stratos