The citizens, and the archeologists of the ancient Byzantine town, historically known as Nicaea and nowadays called Iznik in the Province Anatolia, Asia Minor, were perplexed after they have discovered the foundations of a magnificent Byzantine Greek Orthodox church which emerged from a lake.
As reported by some local Turkish newspapers “Milliyet” and “Zaman” some pilots and cartography explorers confirmed the existence of the church foundations which they have seen while they were flying above the lake with a plane.
The first reference to this church was made by the Turks themselves who explained that this magnificent historical church dated from the 4th century and it was dedicated to the Apostle Paul. This church was believed to be one of the first temples which were part of the Greek Orthodox Church in Asia Minor at that time.
This information refers to the historical construction which was found in a lake. It is approximately 20 meters far from the coast and about 2 meters below the surface. As reported by the President of the Department of Archeology at the “Uludag University” in Bursa, Mustafa Sahin, besides the church ruins, there were foundations of the local Parliament from the Roman Empire under the water as well.
According to the professor Sahin, along with this Roman construction a magnificent church was also built, as it was shown in the photos. It was probably dominant construction in the whole region at that time.
The professor also emphasized that according to the historical data the construction of the temple began in 313 BC, immediately after Christianity has triumphed over the Roman Empire with the arrival of Constantine the Great.
After this significant event for the Christianity the construction of various magnificent temples has been done along the Asia Minor in almost every town where Christian population has lived and in all Roman Provinces too.
It is assumed that the church has sunk in the lake after being hit by the strong earthquake which happened in 740 AD and after such a long period of time it emerged again.
It is evident that Nicaea had been struck by many earthquakes in the past. Another strong earthquake which happened in 1999 caused the church to sink deeper than before.
Nowadays, the temple has emerged again under unknown conditions and appeared in the photos which were taken from the Turkish plane flying above the lake. The plane was controlled by the flight crew from Bursa which was exploring the historical heritage of the area.
According to the historical data, Nicaea was previously known as a place where two historical synods (the First and the Second Nicaea synod) of the early Orthodox Church were held.
The building of the local senate, as the Turks claim, was built in 325 BC and it was part of the constructional complex along with the basilica. However, the Senate was moved to Istanbul due to the construction of the church St. Sofia which was later converted into a mosque.
The university professor, Bedri Yalman from Bursa claims that the local citizens have informed us about this too. Some fishermen also have noted weird ruins under the lake water, but they never gave much importance to it neither from archeological nor historical aspect.
The appearance of this Church under the lake water was taken seriously after the Turkish plane with cartography explorers coincidentally discovered the ruins of the church and their historical significance for the Christianity.
The very first photos of the Church which were taken from the pilots show its unbelievable beauty and magnitude. As reported by the Turkish researchers it has tremendous historical and religious value.
This temple was considered as one of the greatest Christian centers in Asia Minor at that time and it may be the reason for many pilgrims from all over the world to come and visit it.
It has not been proven yet when has the church sunk into the lake. However, the most important of all is that it has emerged again. Its aim is to show that the Greek Christian identity in Asia Minor has never disappeared and even these “signs” left the Turkish citizens perplexed and amazed.