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Church of Saints Constantine and Helen, Hypsomatheia

During the first years that followed the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 the district of Hypsomatheia was populated by Christian Karamans or Karamanlides from Cappadocia. The church complex is situated close to the famous but now ruined Monastery of Studion, founded in 463. This monastery was occupied by the order of the Akoimitoi (Acoemetac) monks, 'the sleepless ones', an austere order which exercised a strong influence over ecclesiastical affairs in the fifth and sixth centuries and later during the period of Church controversies. The Akoimitoi introduced 'continual worship' in the form of 'perpetual psalmody', professing that «hymns chanted to God must never be disrupted.»

The church is the focal point of the parish. For this reason there are within its enclosure other buildings such as administrative offices, soup kitchens, refreshment rooms, and the Photiades School. Photiades was the uncle of Constantine Cavafis, the Alexandrian poet, who lived for a time in his relative’s house close to the church.

With its vast narthex, wall-mounted reliefs and beautiful templon, the church edifice is relatively well preserved, but in this instance, too, damp is causing problems. Yet everything shows signs of being cared for and the courtyard is spotlessly clean. The chairman of the parish council is always ready to offer visitors tea with bread-rings from the adjacent bakery.

Ismini Kapandai
Churches in Constantinople
Nikos Ghinis – Constantinos Stratos