Chora Church & Museum - Kariye Museum, Istanbul

4.5 out of 5 stars 51 Reviews

Kariye Cami Sk No:26, Edirnekapi, +90 212 631 9241

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  • Chora Church & Museum - Kariye Museum
    by magor65
  • Chora Church & Museum - Kariye Museum
    by magor65
  • Chora Church & Museum - Kariye Museum
    by magor65
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    Chora Museum or Kariye

    by traveloturc Updated May 24, 2013

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    Chora Church (Kariye Camii in Turkish) is the most interesting Byzantine church after Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. The importance of the church does not come from the building itself , the frescoes and the mosaics are superb and reflect the magnificient heritage of Byzantine Art. The Chora Church Museum is open every day from 9 a.m to 4:30 p.m except Wed.
    The word "Chora" means "in the country" in Greek because of the original church which was outside the city walls. There are no remains left from the original church and the first form of the present structure dates back to 11C. The church was founded by Maria Doukaina, mother-in-law of Alexius Comnenos I between 1077-1081. Today's church was constructed after two centuries, the walls were revetted with superb mosaics and a pareclession was added decorated with beautiful frescoes. The founder of the church was Theodore Metochites who served as a prime minister during the time of EmperorAndronicus Palaeologus I. He was also an astronomer, poet, theologian and philosopher. Actually he lived a very sad life, after Palaeologus was replaced by another emperor, he was sent to exie. After he came back to Konstantinople, he devoted himself to the church as a monk and he died there. Early in the 16C, the church was converted to a mosque by Atik Ali Pasha and the mosaics were covered with plaster. In 1948, it was restored by Byzantine Institute of America and opened as a museum in 1958.

    Chora church kariye museum
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    Chora Museum

    by ani_istanbul Written Sep 16, 2004

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    Beautiful Chora mosaics and frescoes from the last period of Byzantine painting...I have been to the Church twice...I had seen there in my dream before I had visited so it is one of the important places in Istanbul for me...You will love the square front of the church as well
    Open everyday except Wednesdays between 09.30-16.00

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    Chora Museum

    by Arkeolog Written Feb 25, 2009

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    Chora Church (Kariye Camisi in Turkish) is the most interesting Byzantine church after Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. The importance of the church does not come from the building itself , the frescoes and the mosaics are superb and reflect the magnificient heritage of Byzantine Art. The Chora Church Museum is open every day from 9 a.m to 4:30 p.m except Wed.

    The word "Chora" means "in the country" in Greek because of the original church which was outside the city walls. There are no remains left from the original church and the first form of the present structure dates back to 11C. The church was founded by Maria Doukaina, mother-in-law of Alexius Comnenos I between 1077-1081. Today's church was constructed after two centuries, the walls were revetted with superb mosaics and a pareclession was added decorated with beautiful frescoes. The founder of the church was Theodore Metochites who served as a prime minister during the time of EmperorAndronicus Palaeologus I. He was also an astronomer, poet, theologian and philosopher. Actually he lived a very sad life, after Palaeologus was replaced by another emperor, he was sent to exie. After he came back to Konstantinople, he devoted himself to the church as a monk and he died there. Early in the 16C, the church was converted to a mosque by Atik Ali Pasha and the mosaics were covered with plaster. In 1948, it was restored by Byzantine Institute of America and opened as a museum in 1958.

    The mosaics in Chora Museum dates back to 14th C and they can be divided into 4 parts, the ones on the nave, outer narthex(entrance), inner narthex and frescoes in pareclession(funerary chapel)

    Chore-Kariye

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    A Highlight of Our Trip

    by nicolaitan Updated Apr 25, 2009

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    The Kariye Museum occupies an 11th Century church built under the auspices of Maria Dukaina, the mother in law of Emperor Alexius I Comnenus whose appeals to the west for aid against the Selcuk Turks began the Crusades. A monastery occupied this site as early as the 3rd C, with a with an early 5th C church built outside the city walls created by Constantine, hence the name St. Savior in Chora with chora meaning 'outside the walls". Never mind that after the 414 expansion of the walls by Theodosius the church was inside - the old name persisted. From the Latin, chora means womb and the name may also reflect the dedication of the church to Mary with an eternal womb for the Son of God larger than earth and sky, outside the boundaries created by man, an alternative explanation of the name.
    The church interior was sacked by the 4th Crusade. It fell to Theodore Metochites to endow the creation of the beautiful mosaics and frescoes we see today, created by an unknown team of artists between 1315-21. This statesman and scholar is buried in the church and is depicted in one mosaic presenting a model of the church to Jesus.
    58 years after the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, the church was converted to a mosque ( Kariye Mosque - the name now used for the museum ) by the eunuch Grand Vizier Ali Pasha. A minaret was added and the artwork was covered with plaster as images of living creatures including humans are forbidden in mosques. Protected from damage, the mosaics and frescoes survived in good condition. Initally discovered and again recovered in the late 19th C, the final restoration over 11 years began in 1948 under the auspices of the Byzantine Institute in the United States. The mosque was opened as a museum in the 1950's.

    The museum structure is basically unchanged from the 11th C plan with the addition of a burial chamber along one side in the 14th C and the addition of the minaret 100 years later. The rear of the building lies in a little park with a small kiosk for snacks and serviceable if not pristine free toilets. These are located just beyond the ticket gate.
    The Kariye Museum is located in the western Edimekapi district far removed from most tourist attractions and most but not all tour bus visits - it is just too far out of the way, parking is limited, etc. The best way to get here is a taxi. Public bus service is available, but the stop is several blocks away without obvious directions or signage.
    In the last few years, it appears that the neighborhood has gentrified as the fame of the museum has spread. We saw a few souvenir stores, a boutique style hotel, and a few small restaurants in the area and one, the Asitane, is apparently quite famous.

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    Chora museum II

    by traveloturc Written Jan 4, 2007

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    The mosaics in Chora Museum dates back to 14th C and they can be divided into 4 parts, the ones on the nave, outer narthex(entrance), inner narthex and frescoes in pareclession(funerary chapel)
    Nave; Koimesis, the Dormition of the Virgin. Before ascending to Heaven, her last sleep. Jesus is holding an infant, symbol of Mary's soul; Jesus Christ; The Virgin Mary.
    Inner Narthex; The Enthroned Christ with the Donor, Theodore Metochites presenting a model of his church; St. Peter; St. Paul; Deesis, Christ and the Virgin Mary (without St. John the Baptist) with two donors below; Genealogy of Christ; Religious and noble ancestors of Christ.
    The mosaics in the first three bays of the inner narthex give an account of the Virgin's birth and life. Some of them are as follows: Rejection of Joachim's offerings; Annunciation of St. Anne, the angel of the Lord announcing to Anne that her prayer for a child has been heard; Meeting of Joachim and Anne; Birth of the Virgin Mary; First seven steps of the Virgin; The Virgin given affection by her parents; The Virgin blessed by the priests; Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple;The Virgin receiving bread from an Angel; The Virgin receiving the skein of purple wool, as the priests decided to have the attendant maidens weave a veil for the Temple; Zacharias praying, when it was the time to marry for the Virgin, High Priest Zacharias called all the widowers together and placed their rods on the altar, praying for a sign showing to whom she should be given; The Virgin entrusted to Joseph; (22) Joseph taking the Virgin to his house; Annunciation to the Virgin at the well; Joseph leaving the Virgin, Joseph had to leave for six months on business and when he returned the Virgin was pregnant and he is suspicious of that.

    fresques of Kariye
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    The Stunning Mosaics and Frescoes

    by nicolaitan Updated Apr 27, 2009

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    For those with an interest in sacred art, the Kariye Museum is about as close to "heaven on earth" as you are likely to get. The frescoes and mosaics covering the walls, ceilings, and domes of the church illustrate the first changes induced by the western European Renaissance and are considered the masterpieces of the Byzantine Renaissance. They demonstrate improvements in representing volume and perspective as well as offering a more realistic portray of faces and body position and habitus. Unlike in most churches, the depictions are in a predominantly chronologic order depicting the like of Mary extending from before birth to death and the life and miracles of Jesus. Many other religious images are interposed with pictures of important political and religious figures of the time. Issues relating to death dominate the burial chamber ( parecclesion ). Most of the images in the nave have been lost to time, but the 2 outer long entrance halls (narthex) and the burial chamber are more intact. Mosaics predominate at all areas except the burial hall where frescoes are the major modality.

    IMAGE 1 - depicts one of the few remaining mosaics in the nave, a lovely Madonna with Child, but also shows the remarkably vivid marble walls now visible throughout the main sanctuary.

    IMAGE 2 - there are six domes at St. Savior, each with a medallion at the top depicting Mary, Jesus, or both surrounded by a saints, apostles, and important religious figures. Here, Mary wih Child surrounded by assorted bishops with golden pillars and a bright red background.

    IMAGES 3,4 - the parallel entrance halls ( exonarthex and endonarthex ) walls, columns, and ceilings are completely covered with mosaics of intricate detail, with scenes from the lives and miracles of Jesus and Mary ( the latter including material not in the Bible and derived from the Apocrypha) as well as other images of other leading religious and secular figures. Of note -
    1 - unlike western sacred art, written descriptions are often included within the pictures.
    2 - particularly striking in the inner narthex are the bright golden backgrounds against which the depictions are placed.

    IMAGE 5 - St Peter against a golden background.

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    The Stars of the Show

    by nicolaitan Updated May 3, 2009

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    IMAGE 1 - The Dormition - The death of Mary is a frequent image in Byzantine sacred art, here notable for the bright coloration and intense facial expressions. Sitting over Mary is Jesus holding a baby meant to symbolize the baby-pure soul of the Virgin ( although purists would point out that Jesus received Mary's soul in heaven and did not carry it with him ). And above Jesus flies the Angel of Death. To either side, Peter and Paul. NB -- This mosaic is within the nave -- to see it, after entering turn around and look above the entrance door.

    IMAGE 2 - The Nativity - from the ceiling of the inner narthex, one of the many mosaics covering the life and miracles of Jesus. This image places the scene in an outdoor setting.

    IMAGE 3 - Christ as Pantocrator with Miracles - the rigid codes of Byzantine sacred art required that an image of Christ as Ruler of the World be placed above the main entrance door to the sanctuary. Here, the upper part of the image with the piercing gaze for which this image is most famous. No space is wasted in the narthex and two miracles appear above the central mosaic. To the right of Jesus, the miracle at Cana and to the left the miracle of multiplicatin of the loaves and fishes. This is among the most famous sites in the Kariye Museum.

    IMAGE 4 - The Anastasis - The art work of the burial chamber is comprised of frescoes and leaves behind bibliographic art of the nave and narthex areas. These works emphasize salvation for the faithful and worthy. The room is totally dominated by the brightly colored and beatiful Anastasis at the far end of the room, derived from the Gospel of Nicodemus. Here Jesus, enclosed in the Mandorla, an ancient symbol of the coming together of heaven and earth in the shape of an almond, rescues Adam and Eve from their tombs in Hell. His feet are widespread as he has just kicked down the gates of Hell and at the bottom Satan can be seen bound and gagged lying amidst chunks of marble. His bright white gown and the light surrounding him overwhelm the darkness of Hell. To the left of Jesus, John the Baptist with Kings David and Solomon and other righteous kings. On His right, a multitude of saints led by St. Stephen, the first martyr. The Anastasis is indeed a dominating work of art.

    IMAGE 5 - Last Judgement - after entering the Parecclesion, one must turn around and look above the entrance doorway for this striking fresco. Above Jesus, the scroll of infinity and to his sides angels bearing the documents from which the final decision will be made - immortality in Heaven or permanent damnation to the fires of Hell. Beyond the raised right hand of Jesus, the saved in heaven. And beyond the downturned left hand, the damned in Hell's Lake of Fire. At the bottom, the sinners shackled as they turn toward their unfortunate fate.

    Please visit the travelogue below for more stunning art from the Kariye Museum.

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    Kariye Muzesi

    by Hopkid Written Apr 22, 2008

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    The Kariye Muzesi, formerly the Chora Church and then the Kariye Camii, which was established in the 3rd century when it was literally out in the country. Chora means "country". However over time the city made its way out to the western areas and the city walls constructed by Theodosius in the early 5th century ensured that the church would forever more be "inside" the city and not in the country.

    The current building was constructed in the late 11th century and what draws visitors to this fairly small former church (and mosque) are the fabulous mosaics and frescoes which depict the life of Christ. The mosaics and frescoes date from the early 14th century and are simply beautiful. It was fun to figure out what parts of Christ's life was being depicted in each scene. Luckily our guide book was pretty comprehensive in its listing of the mosaics/frescoes which was especially helpful to a couple of non-chuch goers although Rita has read the Bible.

    This small museum is a must see when in Istanbul and is more than worth the effort to get out here from Sultanahmet or Taksim. The art is exquisite! I will have separate travelogues for the mosaics and frescoes because 5 photos per tip is not enough!

    Mary holding Jesus and the 12 attending angels King Herod's Investigation

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    St. Chora Church

    by midnight_mike Written Jun 15, 2006

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    A five-minute walk from Blachernae Palace, St. Chora Church is a lavish example of 11th century Byzantine architecture and craftsmanship. Like Hagia Sophia, its frescos and mosaics were covered up by the Muslim Turks after their takeover. Much of the interior artwork has been successfully restored. It is now a museum.

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    Byzantine frescoes & mosaics: Kariye museum

    by Spincat Updated Dec 29, 2006

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    The church of Chora, or 'Kariye museum', is an C11th building near the old city walls.

    Breathtaking C13th mosaics and fescos of Christ and the Virgin and various saints. This is a jewel-like place.

    There is one particularly fine set of frescos showing Christ breaking down the gates of hell and raising Adam and Eve.

    The church was a mosque for four centuries and the decorations were covered over - this may have preserved them. They were restored in the last century.

    Entrance fee is 10ytl; open 9.30-4 Thurs-Tues in Nov - March
    Open 9.30-6 (also Tues - Thurs) April- October.

    If you walk on from here for 5 or 10 minutes you can see the imposing old city walls. Take care walking around on your own near the walls, however, as we saw groups of men drinking from cans around there, and that area has a poor reputation. The area around the church seemed very safe and there was a pleasant restaurant and coffee house opposite it.

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    KARIYE (CHORA)MUSEUM

    by neodue Written Apr 15, 2008

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    My childhood passed aorund this Quarter.My relatives and us living in this neigbourhood.It wasa forgotten and dirty quarter with friendly and poor people.

    We were playing game in the dust around those thousend years old monuments.Chora Church garden was our playing garden during the 70's.

    TTOK (Turkish Touring Company) firt gave care to these quarter and renovated old houses surrounding the Church.

    You can visit KARIYE HOTEL and ASITANE restaurant.But the Monument is most Important part of the Quarter.

    During the contruction of the Monastery The are was empty field.(KHORA means country side in Greek and converted in turkish "KIR"

    Kariye is located at Edirnekapý section of Ýstanbul. The dictionary meaning of Kariye (Chora) is "outside of the city", or "rural" in old Greek. The existence of a chapel outside the city walls is mentioned in some very old sorces. The first Khora Church was built on the site of this chapel by Justinianus. The building which managed to survive until the times of the Commenos with various additions and repairs, gained importance when the Imperial Palace Blakhernia near the city walls was expanded. At the end of the 11th century Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law of Emperor Alexi I had it rebuild. The church has a kiborion shaped space whose dome is carried by four arches. During the Latin occupation of 1204 - 1261, both the monastery and the church became extremely ran down. During the reign of Andronikos (1282 - 1326), one of the prominent names of the day, the writer, poet and the minister of treasury Theodore Methocite had the monastery and the church repaired towards 1313, and had an annex to the north of the building, an outer narthex to the west and a chapel (Parekklesion) to the south repaired as well. These new additions were decorated with frescoes and mosaics. Parekklesion, which is a long single naved chapel going along the southern façade, is built above a basement floor. It is partially covered with a dome and the remaining sections are covered by vaults. It has a single abscissa. The outer narthex which runs along the full western facade forms the present façade. The northern wing is only an insignificant corridor. The central dome has a high drum. It is a Turkish period restoration and is made of wood. Outer façades are given plasticity and movement with round arches, half braces, niches and rows of stone and brick. The eastern façade is finished with abscissa extending to the exterior. The middle abscissa is supported with a half arched brace.

    The building was used as a church after the conquest of Ýstanbul but was converted into a mosque in 1511 by the Visier Grand Hadým Ali Pasha, who later added a school and a alm kitchen next to it. After the conversion, the mosaics and frescoes were covered, sometimes by wooden blinds and sometimes by whitewashing over them. All the mozaics and frescoes were uncovered with the work carried out by the American Institute of Byzantine Research in between 1948 - 1958.

    Chora mosaics and frescoes are the most beautiful examples of the last period of Byzantine art (the 14th century). They show a striking similarity. The monotonous background of the former period cannot be seen here. The concept of depth, recognition of the placticity and movement of the figures and the elongation in the figures are the characteristic of this style. Scenes from life of Jesus are given on the outer narthex while the inner narthex has scenes from the life of Madonna.On the portal of the door joining the outer to the inner narthex, there is Christ the "Pantocrator". On the left the scenes depict the birth of Jesus, population cencus being carried out under the supervision of Governor Cyrinus, the angel telling Joseph to leave taking Mary with him, the multiplication of loaves of bread, water turning to wine and on the right side scenes such as messanger kings informing about the birth of Christ, healing of the stroke victims and the massacre of children

    The exonarthex (or outer narthex) is the first part of the church that one enters. It is a transverse corridor, 4 m wide and 23 m long, which is partially open on its eastern length into the parallel esonarthex. The southern end of the exonarthex opens out through the esonarthex forming a western ante-chamber to the parecclesion. The mosaics that decorate the exonarthex include:

    Joseph's dream and journey to Bethlehem;
    Enrollment for taxation;
    Nativity, birth of Christ;
    Journey of the Magi;
    Inquiry of King Herod;
    Flight into Egypt;
    Two frescoes of the massacres ordered by King Herod;
    Mothers mourning for their children;
    Flight of Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist;
    Joseph dreaming, return of the holy family from Egypt to Nazareth;
    Christ taken to Jerusalem for the Passover;
    John the Baptist bearing witness to Christ;
    Miracle;
    Three more Miracles.
    Jesus Christ;
    Virgin and Angels praying.

    The most beautiful mosaic on the inside is Deisis. There is Jesus in the centre with Mary on the left, below Mary, Isaac Commenus and a nun on the right of Jesus. This woman is the daughter of the Mikhael Palaiologos VIII. She was married to the Mongolian Prince Abaka Khan and following her husband's death returned to İstanbul and became a member of a religious order. In this section, under the dome there is Jesus and his ancestors are shown in the segments. On the portal of the church proper, there is Christ in the middle and on the left Theodoros Metochites who has restored the church and adorned it with the mosaics presenting a model of the church.

    The life story of Mary, which is not included in the Bible, is taken from subjects based on the Apostles. At the inner narthex the scenes about Mary can be followed depicting her birth, her first steps, Gabriel telling her that she shall have a child, Mary buying wool for the tebernacle and others. Mosaic above the inner portal of the entrance to the main church depicts the death of the Virgin, Madonna bearing the child Jesus and a Saint. Parekklesion is totally decorated with frescoes. The Anastasia (rebirth) scene seen on the abscissa is a masterpiece. The last judgement above it is shown here in full. It is known that the niche on the right and left sides of the Parekklesion are graves. On the dome of the Parekklesion there is Mary and the child Jesus and 12 in the segments.

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    St Savior from Chora Church - Karyie Camii

    by hadrian Written Oct 18, 2003

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    Only the church, the center of a Byzantine monastery complex, survived. It was converted into a mosque after 1453. From 1948 it is a museum where were left no Islamic element, except the minaret.
    The Greek word “Chora” refers to countryside. Taking in consideration the perimeter of the Constantine’s walls, the building was located out of the city which means that the originally building could it be possibly built around 4th century AD
    ( it is open from Thursday to Tuesday, between 9.00-16.00, the entrace fee is 10.000.000 TL and you can take picture but without blitz, if you use it, you will be very polite invite to leave the church, and because the guardians are not present all time, people use the blitz unfortunately, which will end in the near future that taking photos will be forbidden. It is located in Fener, from Edirnekapi, go few meters on Fevzi Pasa Caddesi and take left on the first street called Hocacakir Caddesi, which streches forward along the Theodosian’s walls. Than take right on the first street called Karyie Bostani which will lead you directly to the church)

    St Savior from Chora Church
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    St Savior from Chora Church - Karyie Camii II

    by hadrian Written Oct 18, 2003

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    The nowadays building dates from the XIth century and was restored between 1315-1321 by the theologian and philosopher Theodor Metochites, prime minister and first lord of treasury, one of the important representatives of the Byzantine elite. In the interior narthex, upon the nave’s door, there is Metochites with a big turban, humbly dedicating the church to the Christ.
    Here you can find some of the most beautiful Byzantine mosaics and frescoes. A really MUST SEE!!!!*.
    Through mosaics and frescoes, you can see how “ God made himself man for bringing redemption to the mankind “: The Christ’s Genealogy, Christ’s Childhood, the Life of Holly Virgin, the Wonders of Christ.
    ( it is open from Thursday to Tuesday, between 9.00-16.00, the entrace fee is 10.000.000 TL and you can take picture but without blitz, if you use it, you will be very polite invite to leave the church, and because the guardians are not present all time, people use the blitz unfortunately, which will end in the near future that taking photos will be forbidden. It is located in Fener, from Edirnekapi, go few meters on Fevzi Pasa Caddesi and take left on the first street called Hocacakir Caddesi, which streches forward along the Theodosian’s walls. Than take right on the first street called Karyie Bostani which will lead you directly to the church)

    Mosaics
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    The St. Savior in Chora Church (Kariye Camii)

    by Paul2001 Written Feb 4, 2005

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    The Chora Church, which today is known at the Kariye Camii, is one those monuments that bus groups frequent and justifably so. There has been a church here since the 4th century but the present building dates from 11th century. In the 14th century the interior of the church was restored by Theodore Metochites, Grand Logothete of the Treasury. It was under his patronage that the magnificent mosaics where created that adorn the interior walls and ceiling of the church. It is these mosaics that bring in the hordes of tourists that flock to the church.
    The church was converted into a mosque by the Turks after they captured the city in 1453. As they did in the Aga Sofia, the place plaster all over the mosaics, hence covering them up for nearly 500 years. In the 1940's two American archeologists uncovered the mosaics and the Turkish government turned the place into a museum in 1947.
    The images recreated in the mosaics depict scenes in the Life of Christ and stories from the Life of the Virgin Mary. Today they are considered to be amongst the most important such mosaics created during the Byzantine era.
    I walked along the famous walls that at one time defended Istanbul before heading towards the Chora Church. It is easy to find because of the towering minerat that was built by the Turks. The neighborhood is not the nicest in Istanbul but relatively safe.
    The museum is open 9:30am to 6pm and it cost $7.00 to visit

    The St. Savior in Chora Church (Kariye Camii) A mosiac Another mosiac
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    Amazing mosaics and frescoes

    by muratkorman Written Aug 7, 2011

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    Chora Church (Kariye) has a history dating back to early 5th century. However, the major part of the current building comes from 11th century. In the beginning of 16th century it was converted into a mosque by Ottoman rulers. In 1948, restoration works started and Chora Church ceased to serve as a mosque. From 1958 onwards, it started to be a museum which became a tourist magnet after Hagia Sofia. The amazing mosaics and frescoes are the highlights of this museum. I prefer not to get you bored with details on all these mosaics and frescoes as you can find these on many resources. I have uploaded 2 videos showing the interior details of Kariye and that could tell you more than I can write here. You can find details about the exact location, admission hours and fees from the website provided below. Just don't forget : Kariye is not to be missed!!!

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