Pantokrator Home Page about Bob Atchison
Pantokrator Monastery in Constantinople menu The History of the Pantokrator Monastery Gallery of Pictures Restoration of the Pantokrator Monastery Learn More about Byzantium

Restoration of the Pantokrator Monastery - Zeyrek Djami

Panorama of the Pantokrator
above: A view of the apses of the Pantokrator showing the sculpture garden.

The famous Byzantinist, Bob Ousterhout, assisted by students from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and Turkish partners, began a survey of the building. With the permission of the Directorate of Pious Foundations, they began the first phase of restoration in 1997-98, and the building was subsequently listed on the World Monuments Watch list of endangered sites of world culture.

View of the North Church
above: A view of the exterior of the north church of the Virgin looking to the south.

Emergency work on the monument began in ernest in 1998. Since then work has continued on the exterior of the building in order to protect the struction from the elements. This involved the replacement of the roof and investigation of the structure underneath the old one. Many exciting discoveries were made which clarified the chronology of construction of the building and helped understand the original appearance of the monastery.

Cracks dating from the 18th century and an eartquake in 1766 were repaired.

Capital from the exterior of the North Church
above: View of the capital from the exterior of the north church narthex

Among the marble fragments found in the rubble are pieces of several different of cornices. We uncovered several large pieces matching the cornices in the north and central churches, which must have found their way onto the roof following significant damage to the building during the Ottoman period. In addition to these, eight additional fragments with simple, yet different, profiles. We also located several fragments of marble revetments in at least three different colors of marble. A few of these preserve slightly curved rear surfaces, indicating that the revetment panels were cut from columns, a common practice in Byzantium.

Most plentiful among the small finds were thousands of mosaic tesserae, which appear most commonly as inert material in the mortar from the eighteenth-century restoration. In addition, in areas of rubble fill, fragments of setting plaster were found, often with the tesserae still attached. Professor Ousterhout speculates that the building was severely damaged in the 1766 earthquake and thoroughly restored shortly thereafter, and that large areas of mosaic decoration either fell during the earthquake or were removed during the restoration. He reports they were arranging for chemical analysis of the glass to compare with window glass (including stained glass) found in the building in 1960.

Interior of the North Church
above: above: A view of the interior of the north church of the Virgin looking to the west.

UNESCO has provided a substantial grant to support the completion of restoration work on the east facades (seen in the first photo). During the summer of 2004, the roof and damaged walls of the exonarthex were restored, and Professor Osterhout and his team's efforts will gradually shift to the interior of the building.

You can help to restore the Zeyrek Camii. New donors are needed! For information on how to make a charitable gift, please contact Prof. Robert Ousterhout at or send contributions directly to the University of Illinois Foundation's "Byzantine Fieldwork Account" c/o Leanne Courson, Director of Development, School of Architecture, 611 Taft Drive, Champaign, IL 61820-6921.

For more information on the restoration please visit Professor Osterhout's page on the Pantokrator and its restoration. Bob Atchison

A website on the Pantokrator Monastery of Constantinople by Bob Atchison

Home | History | Picture Gallery | Restoration | Learn More | About Bob Atchison

© 2004-2011 Bob Atchison | Website by Pallasart Austin Web Design