Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Ottoman Empire

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate (Greeks calling that ‘Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople’), part of the wider Orthodox Church, is one of the fourteen autocephalous churches within the communion of Orthodox Christianity. Patriarchate moved many times between 1455 to 1586.

Since 1586 Greek Orthodox Patriarchate has had its headquarters in Church of St George in the Fener district of Istanbul. Istanbul patriarchs have a symbolic authority over all Greek Orthodox churches, with these patriarchs accepting all Ortohodox’s dignitary with ‘Ecumenical Patriarchs’ qua since 6th century.

After the Treaty of Lausanne on 1923, Patriarchate activities were limited only within Greek Orthodox Communion.


Patriarchate took new rights after conquest of Istanbul with Sultan II. Mehmed (the Conqueror)’s decisions. Greek Orthodox patriarchs inspected Greek communion’s traditional activities, so that these activities could be done in freedom. After a while, this patriarch’s status moved next to the vizier and took place in Ottoman council. Patriarchs were like other heads in council and they were exempted from taxes.

Patriarchs were head in council as concerns the Greek communion’s problems, near this they were plenipotentiary in judicial events. Patriarchs as the undisputed leader of the Greek Orthodox communion gained more rights than during the Byzantine era.

Patriarchs political status has been restricted with ‘Ottoman Reform Edict of 1856’ in Sultan Abdulmecid sultanate. Apart from that their responsibility area was expanded with new decisions on this reform.


Ottoman Empire entered decline period with Treaty of Karlowitz (1699) and followed this dissolution period after Treaty of Jassy (1792). Till then, 1792 and after this period, rebellions lived in Ottoman soils. Ottoman suppressed some rebellions around capital Istanbul and Anatolia, while Patriarchate supported rebellions against Ottoman on this way.


Greeks independence request increased and nationalism took power on 1820’s years, especially in Greece. At the same time some Greek gangs activities started against Ottoman Empire around capital (Istanbul) and Anatolian cities. Patriarchate and Patriarchs Gregorios was the strongest supporter of this gangs activities.

Greeks independence war continued from 1821 to 1832 and killed hundreds of thousands of people from both sides on this period. The most well-known are the Chios and Tripoli events. About this period, I can’t say so clear information because both Ottoman and Greek archives are telling different numbers and reasons that led to these events. I can say… wrong decisions, provocations and extremist groups-persons (from both sides) activities caused hundreds of thousands deaths.


Greeks won independence from Ottoman Empire in 1832. On this period (between 1821-1832) there were some rumors about a door in Patriarchate. People are calling this door ‘hatred door’ and these words’ meaning is explained with a rumor:

“Sultan II. Mahmut was so angry because of the Greek gangs activities, patriachate support and hundreds of thousands deaths. He wanted to punish all who were responsible for that and on this way found betrayal letters from Patriarchs Gregorios to Russia czar. Hearings resulted to Patriarchs Gregorios found guilty and he was executed in front of Patriarchate’s middle door. After this event Patriarchate heads made a secret gathering and took a decision. This door will be kept closed until ‘a Turkish statesman or religious leader’ was killed front of the door.”


Since ten years Turkish government’s efforts and activities increased for Greeks and other ethnic groups. Friendly steps continue around Turkey and restoration is made in historic Greek churches and schools. Near this some places each one of them important seen from a spiritual side opened for prayers. One of this ‘Sumela Monastry’ in Trabzon city.

Also thoughts are made to open again ‘Halki Seminary’, on Halki Island in Marmara Sea for Greek communion. Turkish government’s steps will continue about this with stability.

I wanna ask on this moment: If these rumors are right about ‘hatred door’ and Greek Patriarchate & Greek governments steps are not clearly against peace, how can we solve problems? If we must be sincere about communication, why are these steps so hard for us to be taken?

I hope we can solve all these problems with all questions on our minds. Because, if we can accomplish that, we will see a strong unity between Greece and Turkey.

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