CHORA MUSEUM THROUGH CONSTANTINOPLE TO ISTANBULThe Chora (Kariye in Turkish) Museum, formerly the Church of the Monastery of Chora, is located in Edirnekapı. The name "Chora", which means "in the country" or "outside of the city" in Greek, was given to the building because it remained outside the walls of Constantine that determined the borders of the city during the Byzantine period.
The church had its present plan when it was rebuilt in the eleventh century, and the additions and renovations made between 1316 and 1321 transformed the church into its contemporary look.
Unharmed during Mehmed II’s conquest of Istanbul in 1453, the Church of the Monastery of Chora continued to be used as a church for a long time. Under Sultan Bayezid II’s reign, the Grand Vizier Atik Ali Pasha converted the building to a mosque in 1511 to which a madrasa building was added later on.
All the scripts, symbols of Christianity, frescoes and mosaic ornamentations were able to reach today, because they were covered with a fine paint and lime whitewash after the conversion of the church to a mosque.
The mosque, which had been damaged by fires and earthquakes, has earned a worldwide reputation for its beautiful mosaics and frescoes after its restoration in 1876. It has become one of the frequent destinations of foreign travelers including the German Emperor Wilhelm II.
After earning the museum status in 1945, a comprehensive cleaning and restoration work was carried out between 1947 and 1958, and the frescoes and mosaics bearing the characteristics of the 14th century were brought to daylight and the building was transformed into what it is today.
Mosaics and frescoes were widely used decoration techniques of the Byzantine religious painting. In Chora as well, it is possible to see those two decoration techniques together. The outer and inner narthexes are decorated with magnificent sequential scenes that could be considered among masterworks of mosaics, narrating mainly the life and miracles of Jesus Christ, and the life of Virgin Mary, respectively. On the other hand, in the Parecclesion, religious stories from the Old Testament and scenes such as the judgment day, resurrection and last judgment are depicted in frescoes.
In terms of Eastern Roman art, the Chora Museum is a must-see with its mosaics and frescoes.
Open every day, the Chora Museum could be visited between 09.00-19.00 in summer and between 09.00-16.30 in winter.