St. Anthony of Padua Church
The place I lived was only couple of steps from the famous Istiklal Street in Istanbul. I could not count how many times I passed this street for leisure, shopping, watching the street musicians, or just enjoying the crowd. This street has length of 1,6 km where along the street, visitors both local and international, could enjoy what the streets could offer. Shopping malls, clothes stores, shoes stores, cinema, concert halls, book stores, restaurants, pub and night clubs, you name it.
Right in the middle, there is one stunning Catholic Church mesmerizingly standing. Even though I passed this church like thousand times, I did not took the chance to see how it looks like inside. The mind “it’s closed to my place. I can visit it next time when I pass this street” was always there. But not that morning. I had my last Istanbul brunch with my good friend, Hind, at one of breakfast houses at Istiklal street. When we finished the breakfast, we walked out and the church was standing right in front of us.
“Ah.. I always wanted to visit this church, but I always had reason to postpone,” I told Hind.
“I think you need to come inside, today. I know you will come back to Istanbul someday, Nurul. But God knows when,” Hind encouraged me.
So, I step inside the church. The church itself is opened for public and it is one of tourist attractions at Istiklal Street. Visitors who do not intend to do worship may come anytime, as long as there is no ceremony inside.
Situated on Istiklal Caddesi, behind a large set of iron gates, St. Anthony of Padua Church stands impressively. It was built between 1906 to 1912 with Venetian Neo-Gothic style and run by Italian priests. The church is also known as the fully functioning church in Istanbul.
Although Muslim faith is predominantly known in Turkey, it coexists in harmony with many beliefs as well, including Rome Catholics. The building was designed by Istanbulite Levantine architect, Giolio Mongeri, who also designed many important buildings in Istanbul, such as Maçka Palace (house of Armani Cafe and Gucci) in famous neighborhood Nişantaşi and net-byzantine Karaköy Palas in Karaköy.
The church is considered as minor basilica. Once I entered the gates, it reminds me of cathedral in Cologne. I noticed there are similarity with this two building as both of them applies similar architecture style. Both buildings pointed arches, vaulted ceilings, and very decorative and ornate styles.
I was glad that I finally took the chance to visit this church. Istanbul is full with interesting buildings to explore. Living there for two years, I was still not able to explore all of them. I wish I could return anytime and visit the rest of them.
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