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Arap Mosque

Arap Camii, originally the Dominican Church of Saint Paul, is a mosque located on Kalyon Street in Galata.

It was completed and inaugurated in 1233 as the Church of Saint Paul, built by the Dominican priests of the Roman Catholic Church, during the Latin Empire of Constantinople (1204-1261). Constructed following the Italian model of that period, the church had a squared-off eastern end with a square sanctuary and chapels covered by ribbed groin vaults. Lancet windows and the prominent bell tower distinguished the building from the Byzantine churches in the city. Numerous Latin tombstones from the church are today displayed in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.

arap camii, arab mosque, istanbulFollowing the reconquest of Constantinople by the Byzantines in 1261, the church was given to the local Genoese community of Galata, who had remained loyal to the Byzantines during the Fourth Crusade (Sack of Constantinople) in 1204 and assisted them for defending the city against the invading Venetians.

In 1407, the church was extensively repaired and restored with the financial aid of the Papacy.

In 1475, it was transformed into a mosque by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II and became known as Galata Camii (Galata Mosque).

In 1492, the mosque was given to the Arabs of Spain (Andalusia), who fled the Spanish Inquisition and migrated to Istanbul, by Sultan Bayezid II; hence the present name Arap Camii (Arab Mosque).

Today, Arap Camii is the largest mosque on the Galata side of the Golden Horn.

It is one of the most interesting mosques in the city due to its early Italian Gothic architectural style and church bell tower (now a minaret) which has practically remained the same even after being transformed into a mosque. The building has received almost no changes to its exterior appearance. - 2007