Phanar Greek Orthodox College
Known by locals as kırmızı kale, or Red Castle, the Phanar Greek Orthodox College is an unforgettable architectural monument that indeed resembles a place for royalty. Its intricate architectural layout in the neo-Gothic style with a dark red, brick-laid exterior was erected between 1881 and 1883 by the Ottoman Greek architect Konstantinos Dimadis. Georgios Zariphis, a prominent Greek Ottoman financier, contributed 17,210 Ottoman gold pounds for the construction of this building, which was considered a large sum of money for this period.
Before its construction, the Phanar Greek Orthodox College was established as a school in 1454 under Sultan Mehmet II’s decree that allowed the Greek Orthodox people to receive an education in their own language. Prominent Greek and Bulgarian families in the Ottoman Empire sent their children here, and a number of Ottoman ministers, Wallachian, and Moldavian princes graduated from this school.
Despite its continued function as a school, though for a small body of no more than 50 students, its Greek name as The Great School of the Nation is upheld with its impressive presence in Balat. The present building consists of three floors and an area of 3020 square meters, which is utilized by the school. The large dome at the top of the building, which spans 40 meters in height, is used as an observatory for astronomy classes, and it houses a large antique telescope.
Phanar Greek Orthodox College is located near the St. George's Cathedral and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, marking these institutions as important historical monuments for the Greek and Orthodox community in Istanbul.
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