The Council of Nicaea ended on the 25th July 325. This was the first Ecumenical Church Council, and decided a number of important issues such as the Nicene Creed, the separation of Easter and Passover. Bishops came from beyond the borders of the Roman Empire, for example from Persia, making a huge effort to find common ground - the same cannot be said of the 20 subsequent Councils.
Last year I visited Iznik, and took these photos of Hagia Sophia - the large church is now a ruin, but enough remains to imagine how grand it must once have been. Elsewhere there are some interesting remains of Ottoman kilns and a few small mosques, but the town tends not to be on the tourist trail - unless guides try to drag people there to buy tiles.
Originally a Boeotian colony called Ancore or Helicore, the town was rebuilt by Antigonus I as Antigoneia (316 BC and after). The town then fell under the control of Lysimachus, who re-named it Nikaia in honor of his victory (301 BC), and of his wife Nicaea (a daughter of Antipater). By the next century it had become the capital of Bithynia, although the capital eventually moved to Nicodemia. During the Roman period Pliny visited as governor of Bithynia, and has left us a description of the town. The city remained important under the Byzantines, but fell to the Seljuks in the eleventh century.
In the fourth century the town suffered from a series of earthquakes, but was rebuilt by Valens - the church of Hagia Sophia probably dates from his reign. In 787 the Second Council of Nicea was held it in - this is the Council that ended the first Iconoclast period under Irene.
Copyright © 2008 Dorothy King