Kalenderhane Mosque was originally a Byzantine church built towards the end of the 12th century. After the conquest of Constantinople, it was granted to the Kalender Dervishes as a lodge. The Kalender dervishes are an Islamic sect whose beliefs demand a life of endless wandering. It’s not surprising that they eventually abandoned their lodge. Today, it’s popular with students from the nearby Istanbul University.
The Kalenderhane is small and impressive for both its marble panels and its age. Inside, the oldest known painting of Saint Francis d’Assisi was discovered in 1966. The fresco, which depicts the saint preaching to the birds, is believed to have been painted shortly after his death in 1266. It can be seen in the Istanbul Archaeological Museums.