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Church of the Virgin of Hope Kontoskaliou

Of the four large churches in the Kontoskali district which burnt down in 1660, Saint Nicholas' and Saint John's were wiped out and never rebuilt, but the Church of the Virgin of Hope was not only rebuilt in 1680 through the intervention of the Russian ambassador Nikita Alexievich, but also was provided by the Russian government with an annual grant of money (M. Gedeon).
In 1719 it was again reduced to ashes. It is not known if that church had already been replaced before the great fire of 1762, only to be destroyed once more. What is certain is that another church was consumed by fire in August 1865, and for the next thirty years the parishioners observed their religious obligations in a timber-built chapel erected within the church enclosure.
On 4 January 1895, as soon as the special firman or permit allowing its rebuilding had been issued by the Sultan, the foundation-stone was laid of the present church, considered one of the most beautiful of the extant churches in Constantinople. It lies only a few paces distant from the similarly impressive Church of Saint Kyriaki.
A typical example of the architecture of its time, it is a fine building with staid and severe baroque features, a structure erected by the hands of Thracian craftsmen living in the parish. The church asserts its presence, its mere size and the harmony of its composition, its outstanding decoration and the distinction of its overall conception evoking a response from the onlooker.
In all probability the Virgin of Hope stands on the same site once occupied by the 14th-century Monastery of Certain Hope, a foundation associated with great Palaeologan families such as the Philanthropinos.
Sadly, the present slate of the church is far from satisfactory. Dilapidations, chiefly through damp, are considerable, as photographs of the Pantocrator and wall-paintings clearly illustrate. Judging also from the condition of the exterior, the sum required for the church 'a restoration will be a large one.

Ismini Kapandai
Churches in Constantinople
Nikos Ghinis – Constantinos Stratos

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