St. Anthony of Padua Church is the largest church of the Roman Catholic Church in Istanbul. It is located on İstiklal Avenue (see notes 1) in the historic Beyoğlu (Pera) district, the social and cultural center of Istanbul.

It is also known as the Sant’Antonio di Padova Church, S. Antonio di Padova, St. Antoine, or locally as Sen Antuan.

The original St. Anthony of Padua Church was built in 1725 by the local Italian community of Istanbul (known as “Levantines” or locally “levanten”, see notes 2), but was later demolished at the beginning of the twentieth century to make way for the construction of a new tramway. Then in 1906, renowned architects Giulio Mongeri (see notes 3) and Edoardo de Nari (see notes 4) came together to design the current building constructed on the same location. And in 1912 the new church was re-opened for worship.

Church of St. Anthony of Padua
Church of St. Anthony of Padua on İstiklal Avenue, Istanbul.

The current St. Anthony of Padua (see notes 5), along with its adjacent buildings (known as the St. Antoine Apartmanları) on İstiklal Avenue, was built in the Venetian Neo-Gothic and Tuscan-Lombard styles and was likewise edificed by the local Italian community of the city, mostly of Genoese and Venetian descent, who amounted to 40,000 people at the turn of the 20th century.

Pope John XXIII preached in this church for 10 years, when he was the Vatican’s ambassador to Turkey before being elected as pope. He is known in Turkey with the nickname “The Turkish Pope” because of his fluent Turkish and his often expressed love for Turkey and the city of Istanbul.

The statue of Pope John XXIII
The statue of Pope John XXIII

It is possible for visitors to attend mass at St. Anthony of Padua Church.

Notes

  1. İstiklal Avenue (Turkish: İstiklal Caddesi, literally means “Independence Avenue” in English), historically known as the Grand Avenue of Pera is one of the most famous avenues in Istanbul, Turkey, visited by nearly 3 million people in a single day over the course of weekends. It is surrounded by late Ottoman era buildings (mostly from the 19th and early 20th centuries) that were designed with the Neo-Classical, Neo-Gothic, Renaissance Revival, Beaux-Arts, Art Nouveau, and First Turkish National Architecture styles; as well as a few Art Deco style buildings from the early years of the Turkish Republic, and a number of more recent examples of modern architecture; starts from the medieval Genoese neighborhood around Galata Tower and ultimately leads up to Taksim Square.
  2. Giulio Mongeri (b. 1873, İstanbul, d. 1953, Italy) was a Turkish (of Italian-origin) architect. He was one of the most important members of the First Turkish National Architecture style. He designed many important buildings in Istanbul and Ankara; such as the Maçka Palas (which houses Armani Café and Gucci) in Nişantaşı and the Neo-Byzantine style Karaköy Palas bank building in Karaköy (Galata), Istanbul; as well as the first headquarters of Türkiye İş Bank in Ankara.
  3. Edoardo de Nari (1874-1954), Italian architect. He was a naval officer in the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) before he settled down in Istanbul in 1895. He was gifted in many areas and possessed qualifications that allowed him to practice his professional career in foreign lands: architect, engineer, composer, world traveler, and, finally, politician.
  4. St. Anthony of Padua (15 August 1195 – 13 June 1231) is perhaps the most celebrated disciple of St. Francis of Assisi. Born Fernando Martins de Bulhões, also known as Anthony of Lisbon. Though he died in Padua, Italy, he was born and raised in a wealthy family in Lisbon. Noted by his contemporaries for his forceful preaching and expert knowledge of scripture, he was the second-fastest canonized saint (after St. Peter of Verona) and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 16 January 1946. He is also the saint of finding things or lost people. He is generally pictured with a book and the Infant Child Jesus, who appeared to him in a vision.
Anthony of Padua with the Infant Jesus
Anthony of Padua with the Infant Jesus by Antonio de Pereda.

Sources

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I am a software developer, a former road racing cyclist, and a science enthusiast. Also an animal lover! I write about the city of Istanbul on this website.