One of Istanbul’s oldest and most revered shrines, this Eastern Orthodox sanctuary was first built in the fifth century. It was created beside a holy spring that was believed to have healing properties. After being destroyed by the Ottomans in the 15th century, a modern church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was built in 1835 and now sits on the site. It is an important pilgrimage site with thousands visiting annually.
The fountain of Zoodochus Pege (which means ‘life-giving spring) contains fish that are said to have arrived as a miracle following the fall of Constantinople. Legend says that a monk frying fish in a pan said he would only believe the fall of the city if the fish came back to life, after which the fish jumped into the water and have remained ever since. The inner courtyard holds the tombs of Greek Orthodox bishops. Headstones are written in in Karamanlı, the Turkish language written in Greek characters.
The shrine is located outside the city walls to the west, in the Zeytinburnu neighborhood, at the site known as Balikli. To get there, walk past Silivrikapı gate in the old city walls and walk down Seyit Nizam Caddesi.