Chora Church (Kariye Museum)

Dervişali Mahallesi, Kariye Cami Sk. No:8, 34087 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey

According to Islamic tradition, only God can create images of holy beings, including angels and prophets. Therefore, when the Ottomans converted Chora Church into a mosque in the 16th century, they covered the 14th-century Byzantine mosaics and frescoes depicting the life of Christ and Mother Mary. Hidden behind wooden shutters were some of the finest mosaics in the world, which were restored following World War II and can now be viewed in all their glory.

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Gilded Mosaics Up Close

The Kariye Museum is a very small former mosque located on the western edges of Istanbul. It is worth a track to see the details of the gilded mosaics and frescos. The beauty of the small space leaves you wondering how spectacular Hagia Sophia must have looked like at its finish.

Go for the Gold at Chora Museum

To see a dazzling collection of glittery mosaics, go to Santa Kariye, the 5th-century Byzantine church. Also referred to as St. Savior in Chora and as the Church of the Holy Savior, the church is richly decorated with 14th-century mosaics in excellent condition. The mosaics tell the story of the lives of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. Now operated as a museum, Chora is well worth the taxi trip outside of the center of Istanbul where most of the tourist attractions are concentrated. The church’s Greek name, Chora, signified the fact that when built, it was in the country, outside the walls of Constantinople (Istanbul’s former name). Do I like did, and zero in on the figures’ hands. It was great fun to find and photograph so many elongated fingers graced by gold. Address: Kariye Camii Sok., Kariye Meydani, Edirnekapi, Istanbul, Turkey. Phone: 0212 631 92 41

Chora Church

Chora Church is a Byzantine monument decorated in the 13th century with intricate mosaics. The church also has this serene cupola painted with the Virgin Mary and Jesus in the center surrounded by her ancestors. It’s a little out of the way but so worth the effort.

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