Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora / Chora Museum

Kariye Müzesi

Chora Museum is located within the walls of the ancient church of the Holy Saviour, which was a part of a monastery complex in Chora, one of the most beautiful surviving examples of a Byzantine church in Istanbul. Ancient Greek word "Chora" means "outside the walls" referring to the ancient history of the monastery which was founded outside the walls of Constantinople in the 4th - beginning of the 5th century. Within the history the building was rebuilt several times. Building of the church that survived to our days was erected at the beginning of the 14th century on the foundation of the 9th century and, of course, it did not keep traces of the early Byzantine architecture.

The church acquired its magnificent adornment thanks to the great Byzantine statesman, author, gentleman philosopher and patron of the arts, Theodore Metochites who held the position of personal advisor to emperor Andronikos II. Under his order the most beautiful mosaics and frescoes were created. Later Metochites took the monastic vows and two last years of his life he spent at the monastery in Chora. He was buried here in 1332.

At the beginning of the 16th century Atık Ali Paşa, the Grand Vizier of Sultan Bayezid II ordered the Chora Church to be converted into a mosque. Due to the prohibition against iconic images in Islam, the mosaics and frescoes were covered behind a layer of plaster. Thanks to the fact that the frescoes had not been destroyed but covered by plaster, they survived to our days. In 1948 the mosque was closed for the restoration works and in 1958 Chora Museum was opened here.

At the entrance you will be impressed by the beauty and splendour of mosaic walls and floors. The layout of the building is quite complicated. It includes the following principal facilities: the entrance hall (inner narthex), the main body of the church (naos) where one can see the surviving mosaics and the side chapel (parecclesion) with the frescoes. The mosaics that decorate exonarthex (the first part of the church that one enters) are devoted to life of the Christ: opposite the entrance, over the gate to the inner narthex there is Christ the Pantocrator and opposite is Our Lady of Blachernae. Inside the narthex there is the series of frescoes devoted to the life of Our Lady. Over the entrance to naos there is Christ with Theodore Metochites who is showing the model of the church. In parecclseion that was used as mortuary chapel for family burials and memorials there are frescoes devoted to the Resurrection and the Heavenly Court.

Address: Ayvansaray Mh., Kariye Camii Sk. 26
Opening hours: Mon-Tue, Thu-Sun 9 am – 4.30 pm, Wed closed
Coordinates: 41.031199, 28.939042