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Church of Saint Mary of the Mongols

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Consecrated in the 13th century, this is the only Greek Orthodox Church in Istanbul to remain continuously in the hands of the Greek community. Mehmet the Conqueror, after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, gave the church a writ declaring that it would not be converted to a mosque. And just in case anybody gets any ideas, they still have this document in the church. The founder, Maria Palaeologina, was an illegitimate Byzantine princess who was given as a bride to a Mongol Khan. When her husband was assassinated, she returned to Constantinople, built this church, and served here as a nun for the rest of her life.

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