In the 11th and 12th centuries, a nephew of Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologos, funded the construction of a Byzantine church known as the Pammakaristos Church (or the Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos). Sultan Murad II transformed it into the Fethiye mosque in 1591. It had fallen into ruin, but in 1949 the Byzantine Institute of America and Dumbarton Oaks renovated it, bringing forth its former glory. The mosque's main hall is still used for worship, while a section that was once a chapel has been partitioned off and turned into the Fethiye Museum.
It was established in the Komnenian period and expanded upon throughout the late Byzantine era, becoming famous for the elaborate decoration of its parekklesion. Though some of its exterior walls are adorned with brickwork, the building's true charm is found on the inside.
How to explore the Fethiye Museum?
- This church's Byzantine mosaics are just as well preserved as those in the more well-known Chora Church.
- In and around the chapel are a number of laudatory epigrams penned by Tarchaneiotes. It was considered a separate church in spite of its proximity to the main church. There is an apse, a naos with a dome over its center bay, and a narthex with a gallery and two domes.
- In the dome, you may see Christ as Pantocrator surrounded by the twelve prophets, the Deesis (Christ with the Virgin and St. John the Baptist), and the Baptism of Christ.
- In addition to the two on either side of the entrance, there were two more Arcosolia on the east wall of the narthex. Mosaics depicting episodes from Christ's life, groups of saints, and a Deisis in the main apse adorn the interior.
- On the south side of the ambulatory, you can see the remains of a painting that makes typological references to the Virgin Mary, such as the closed door.
- Below the upper cornice is a polychrome champlevé frieze decorated with heraldic elements, such as roundels of rampant lions, and there are inscriptions throughout the upper and lower cornices.