Fenâri Îsâ Mosque (full name in Turkish: Molla Fenâri Îsâ Câmîi), in Byzantine times known as the Lips Monastery (Greek: Μονή του Λιβός), is a mosque in Istanbul, made of two former Eastern Orthodox churches.
The complex is located in the Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey, along the Vatan Caddesi Avenue, in a modern context.
In 908, the Byzantine admiral Constantine Lips inaugurated a nunnery in the presence of the Emperor Leo VI the Wise (r. 886–912). The nunnery was dedicated to the Virgin Theotokos (“Immaculate Mother of God”) in a place called “Merdosangaris” (Greek: Μερδοσαγγάρης), in the valley of the Lycus (the river of Constantinople) . The nunnery was known also after his name (Monē tou Libos), and became one of the largest of Constantinople
The church was built on the remains of another shrine from the 6th century, and used the tombstones of an ancient Roman cemetery. Relics of Saint Irene were stored here. The church is generally known as “North Church”.
After the Latin invasion and the restoration of the Byzantine Empire, between 1286 and 1304, Empress Theodora, widow of Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (r. 1259–1282), erected another church dedicated to St. John the Baptist (Eκκλησία του Αγίου Ιωάννου Προδρόμου του Λίβος) south of the first church. Several exponents of the imperial dynasty of the Palaiologos were buried there besides Theodora: her son Constantine, Empress Eirene of Montferrat and her husband Emperor Andronikos II (r. 1282–1328). This church is generally known as the “South Church”. The Empress restored also the nunnery, which by that time had been possibly abandoned . According to its typikon, the nunnery at that time hosted a total of 50 women and also a Xenon for laywomen with 15 beds attached. Continue reading