Friday, June 25, 2010

The Church of St. Anthony

I took a walk on the historic street named Istiklal which has embassies, shops and the Church of St. Anthony. The church was open for visitors, so I walked in. The church was built from 1906 to 1911, and opened in 1912. The designers of the building were Giulio Mongeri and Edoardo De Nari in the neo-gothic style. The facade reproduces the 14th century Tuscan-Lombard style. In 1932, the church was elevated to a Basilica by Pope Pius XI. In 1949, a triple electric organ built by an Italian firm was added. There are organ pipes in the upper levels over the entrance to the church. The round windows on the front of the church have blue glass in the center and white outside.

Istiklal is closed to traffic, except for an historical tram that takes passengers from Tunel to Taxsim. There are many fine buildings along the way. I had gotten to Istikal by taking one of two Istanbul funicular trains to Tunel. This train was designed by the French engineer Henri Gavand and built between 1871 to 1874. It is underground and the trains were originally pulled by cables. The length is just 573 meters, but it allows passengers to ride up a very steep hill. It was electrified in 1971. A one way ride is just one Turkish lira, or about 65 cents.

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