Istanbul Travel Guide

Chora Museum

  • Dome of the Chora Museum

  • The Chora Museum, has one of the best examples of Byzantine mosaic art

  • The mosaics and frescoes were covered with a plaster after the conquest

  • After the Republic it became a museum

The Chora Museum, has one of the best examples of Byzantine mosaic art. The museum is located at Edirnekapi city walls over the Golden Horn. The name Chora means "countryside" in Greek. Originally a church, it was converted into a mosque after the Istanbul, and after the Republic it became a museum.

The Chora Church was built in the early 5th century outside the first wall of Constatinopole, as. It was a small monastery just outside of the city. Than the Chora Church was destroyed by earthquakes and abandoned for many centuries until the area was inhabited.

The Chora church was rebuilt in the 11th century. It was  rebuilt again by Theodore Metochites, responsible of the Byzantine treasury and the art at that time, in the 14th century. Most of the mosaics and frescos we can admire today are from this last restoration.

After the conquest of Istanbul, it was converted the church to a mosque and named as Kariye Mosque. The mosaics and frescoes were covered with a plaster. In the beginning of the 20th century the minaret collapsed on the dome because of an earthquake, thus the dome was rebuilt but mosaics were lost.

After the Republic, experts on the Byzantine art came to Istanbul to work on the restorations of the Chora in order to uncover fantastic mosaics and frescoes. It was opened to the public as a museum in 1958.

The Kariye Museum has the best Byzantine mosaics in Istanbul, similar to the ones in Ravenna - Italy. Many mosaics in the narthex and inner narthex describe the life of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary, with citations from the Old and New Testaments. In the Paraclesion, which is the side corridor, you can view great frescoes such as the Resurrection (Anastasis) or the last judgment (Deesis). In the nave, the Dormition of the Virgin (Koimesis) mosaic is impressive.

Useful Information for Chora Museum

Address Kariye Müzesi , Edirnekapi, Fatih
Tel +90 212 6319241
Entrance fee The museum is open between 09:00 - 16:30 except on Wednesdays, but it has longer opening hours during summer months. Admission fee is 15 TL.
Fast Facts Some sections of the museum will be closed in 2014 for restorations.