The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, also known as the Chora Museum, is one of the most beautiful historical places. It is a surviving example of a Byzantine church. The Chora Church is present in Istanbul, close to the Edirnekapı, which is lying in the west of Fatih. During 16th century, this church took the form of a mosque, and finally in 1948, it was turned into a museum. The interior of the building is beautified with fine mosaics and frescoes.

Chora Church in Turkey

History of the Chora Church

The Chora Church was originally founded as part of a monastery complex outside the walls of Constantinople, southern Golden Horn. The full name of this church is the ‘Church of the Holy Saviour in the Country’. On this site, before the Chora Church, there was another church that got constructed in 5th century.

The majority of the fabric of the current church’s building is dating from 10th century, in the times when Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law of Alexius I Comnenus, ordered to reconstruct te church in a better style. Its reconstruction was completed by Isaac Comnenus, Alexius’s third son. The church is more known for its beautiful mosaics and appealing frescos. Its impressive decoration was done during 13th century. The mosaic-work of this church is a good example of the Palaeologian Renaissance.

In early 14th century, it used to be home to the scholar named Maximus Planudes, who was responsible for restoring and reintroducing the Ptolemy’s Geography to the Byzantines and Renaissance Italy.

Around 50 years after the fall of Ottomans, Atık Ali Paşa, the Grand Vizier of Sultan Bayezid II, gave orders to convert the Chora Church into a mosque named Kariye Camii.

In 1948, Thomas Whittemore and Paul A. Underwood, from the Byzantine Institute of America, initiated a program to sponsor the restoration of many historical buildings, the Chora Church was one of them. From that time, the building was serving like a mosque. During 1958, it was opened as a museum named Kariye Müzesi.

Interior of the Chora Church

Internally, the Chora Church is not much spacious as many other surviving churches of Byzantine Istanbul. It covers an area of 742.5 m², but what make it unique are the beautiful marbles and mosaics used to construct the interiors of the church. The building has been divided into three parts: the entrance hall named narthex, the main body named naos, and the side chapel named parecclesion. This building is known for its six beautiful domes: two in the esonarthex, one in the parecclesion and three in the naos.

What is Exonarthex

The exonarthex (or outer narthex) is the very first portion of the church which is actually a transverse corridor with 4m width and 23m length. It partially opens to the east, while the southern end is opening through the esonarthex. The church has some distinctive mosaics like enrollment for taxation, Navity, journey of the Magi, flight into Egypt, and Jesus Christ etc.

The overall environment of the church is very amazing, and this is the reason it is chosen by many tourists to come and spend some part of their day, while viewing the beauty of the historical building. The ideal time to go there is during weekends. So, are you ready to visit the Chore Church?


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