Church of St. Mary of the Spring (Balikli Kilise)
The fountain of Zoodochos Pege contains fish that are said to have arrived as a miracle following the fall of Constantinople. The spring has been a pilgrimage draw for hundreds of years, with many pilgrims arriving just after Easter. Marble tombs from the 19th and 20th centuries hold the remains of wealthy Greek residents of Istanbul, including former patriarchs.
Some private Christian heritage tours of Istanbul visit the Shrine of Zoodochos Pege. These tours also visit important Byzantine Christian locations such as Blachernae Church, the Kariye Museum, and Pammakaristos Church.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Shrine of Zoodochos Pege is a must-visit for history buffs.
The shrine is an active religious site, so please dress and behave appropriately.
Make sure to wear comfortable shoes to explore the church.
How to Get There
The Shrine of Zoodochos Pege is located outside the Walls of Constantinople in Istanbul’s Balikli neighborhood. It’s a short walk from the Bagcilar tram stop, on the tram line that runs through Sultanahmet Square. For maximum convenience, take a taxi or book a tour that includes round-trip transportation.
When to Get There
The Shrine of Zoodochos Pege is open daily from 8:30am to 4:30pm. Pilgrims flock to the shrine on the Friday after Easter and on September 14, when religious feasts make the church quite busy. Christian religious holidays and funerals can lead to crowded days at the church as well. Check ahead of time if you’d prefer to come during a quieter time.
The Myth of the Fish
The fish in the holy spring at the Shrine of Zoodochos Pege are said to be part of a miracle. According to legend, a monk frying fish in a pan said he would believe the fall of Constantinople only if the fish came back to life. The fish he was frying then jumped into the water and, supposedly, have remained there ever since.
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