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Chora Church

Fast Facts

  • Location: Istanbul, Turkey
  • Significance: Byzantine Church
  • Attraction Type: Church, History, Artwork, Byzantine mosaics and Frescoes
  • Timings: Open everyday except Wednesdays
  • How to Reach: Take a taxi to the museum, or take a bus and get off at Edirnekapi, from where the church is a five minutes walk.
  • Nearest Airport: Istanbul International Airport
The Chora Church, at first glance may not seem as impressive as other Byzantine churches that are spread all over Turkey. However, it is still one of the most popular churches in Istanbul, mainly because of the exquisite artwork that is present in the inner recesses of its walls. What it lacks on the outside, it more than makes it up at the inside of the church.

History of the Chora Church

The Chora Church was originally built in the fourth century outside the walls built by Constantine the Great. It was then known as the ‘Church of the Holy Savior’. The present building is a later day addition, constructed at as late as the 11th century. However, during the onset of the Ottoman rule it was changed into a mosque, commonly referred to as the Kariye Camii. The name of the church also changed into”¦..The greatest damage that the church received inflicted on it during the moment of the shift in its spiritual allegiance was an attack on its exquisite artworks and high quality Byzantine frescoes. Since Islam forbids figurative representations, all of the church’s grand interiors were hidden behind plaster.

However, soon after Turkey’s independence, there were attempts to resurrect the art of the church. The plaster was carefully scraped of to reveal some of the best representatives of Byzantine art.

Chora Church Artworks

The entire artwork, as well as the architecture of the church is divided into three distinct parts, like most Byzantine religious houses: the narthex, the naos and the Parecclesion. The Narthex is where some of the most elegant frescoes are present. It is further divided into the outer Exonarthex and the inner Esonarthex. There are six frescoes in the Exonarthex including the major Geneology of Christ and portraits of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The Esonarthex has as many as fifteen mosaics, most of them representing various episodes from the Virgin’s life.

The central doors of the esonarthex lead visitors to the Naos, the main body of the church. Although the structure of the Naos is appropriately modest like remaining parts of the church, the sheer profusion of artworks make it stand apart. There are three artworks in this part, the Koimesis or the Dormition of the Virgin, and iconic presentations of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary. The chapel or the parecclesion is on the right of the Naos. This is also decorated with five highly impressive mosaics including the magnificent Anastasis frescoe and the tenderly Virgin and Child fresco.

Accommodation in Istanbul

There are plenty of hotels in Istanbul catering to all kinds of travelers. There are luxury as well as budget hotels. Some of the popular ones are the Orient Express, Best Western the President’s Hotel, Sapphire and Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul.


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