Christians celebrate Epiphany with swim in Istanbul

The Patriarch of Constantinople celebrates the Epiphany Mass before blessing the waters of the Golden Horn with a cross that young Greek Orthodox Christians recovered by diving into the icy water. The winner this year is Mihalis Vosnakiris.

Orthodox patriarch signs decree on independent Ukraine church

The Istanbul-based Orthodox patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople signs the formal decree confirming the creation of an independent Ukrainian church. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attended the ceremony in Istanbul. IMAGES

Russian Orthodox Church breaks ties with Constantinople

The Russian Orthodox Church announces it is breaking ties with the Constantinople Patriarchate over its decision to grant independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which Moscow does not recognise. Moscow considers the Kiev Patriarch Filaret to be a schismatic, a decision Constantinople has backed since the 1990s but reversed last week amid the drive by Ukraine for its own Orthodox Church independent from Moscow.

Foreigners snap up Istanbul’s iconic waterfront mansions

They are among Istanbul’s most iconic sights — magnificent waterside mansions strung out along the Bosphorus as the waters of the strait dividing Europe and Asia lap almost at their front doors. Once the preserve of the Ottoman elite and affluent foreigners working in what was Constantinople, the mansions, known as yalis, were made famous in novels and more recently through modern Turkey’s hugely successful TV soap operas.