Chora Church (Kariye Museum)

The Church of the Holy Savior (today a museum)is one of the most delightful finds in Istanbul. Built in the 11th century, over the foundations of the earlier church which dates to the 5th century, the Chora is home to some of the finest mosaics and wall murals to be found in the world. The mosaics had been plastered over during the buildings four hundred year long stint as a mosque but the decorations were restored by the Byzantine Society of America.

The Museum which is a work of art belonging to the 11th century was named Kariye (Outside the City) because it was located outside the city at the time. Kariye Museum, also called “The Church of Christ”, is the second important Byzantine building in Istanbul after Hagia Sophia. Most of the mosaics and frescos depicting the lives of the Jesus and Mary were made between 1305-1320 and dedicated to Jesus by Maria Dukaina who had it built. The church was converted into a mosque during the reign of the Bayazit II. It was restored in 1929 and opened to public as a museum after its mosaics were unearthed.

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