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A small lakeside town in northwestern Turkey, Iznik is the modern successor of the Byzantine city of Nicea, where a famous church council was held in 325 AD.
The Council of Nicea was called by Emperor Constantine the Great, who had converted to Christianity a decade earlier and ended centuries of persecution of Christianity. Around 300 bishops from across the Christian world attended. The main reason for the council was the dispute over Arianism (the doctrine that Christ is a lesser divine being than God) but the bishops also dealt with the date of Easter and various matters of church administration.
Another important council was held at Nicea in 787 to deal with the iconoclastic controversy (the dispute over whether the use of icons was appropriate or constituted idolatry).
The First Council of Nicea was held in the Senatus Palace, which sadly now lies beneath the waters of Lake Iznik. But believers and historians still come to Iznik to see the ruins of the 4th-century St. Sophia Cathedral, the site of the Second Council of Nicea, in the town center. Renamed Orhan Ghazi Mosque in 1331 , the building was restored by the famous architect Sinan in the 16th century. The ceiling has collapsed but much still remains. On the wall of a grave room is a fresco of Christ and there are surviving mosaic pavements on the floor.
Learn more: Iznik (Nicea)