The remains of a basilica have been located among the ruins of other monuments during excavations in Tophane district, Bursa, Turkey. The excavations form part of the Bursa walls restoration project.
According to İbrahim Yılmaz, an architect who supervises the restoration project, the ruins came to light when excavating a tower (dubbed A) which is part of the walls in Tophane. “We have found the remains of some walls in the lower levels of the tower”, Yilmaz explains.
Suspecting that the remains would be part of a Roman structure, the project authorities had decided to demolish a single-floor structure which used to cover them. As the excavation proceeded, a rectangular basilica structure with marble columns and wall decorations was revealed. Excavations later revealed the basilica’s outer parts (atrium, narthex).
On the main building’s features, Yilmaz says:
“There is a round apse (the place for religious ceremonies) and a window bay in front of it. In the middle of the basilica is a nave and two rooms on its right and left sides. One of these rooms is in the northeast of the apse and the other is in its southeast. The name of the first room is the diakonikon, which is home to holy objects, and the other is the prothesis, where gifts are accepted and kept. In the northwest of the apse there is a burial chamber, in which there is the skeleton of a priest.”
The early Christian structure is believed to have been one of Bursa’s oldest monuments. The works belong to the project’s first phase, which includes the restoration of two towers A and B. Overall, the project includes an area of 1,200 square meters from the north of the Saltanat Gate to the Kaplıca Gate.