Yesterday’s Chora Church to Today’s Kariye Mosque – A Guide
The Chora Church is a historical and glorious place near Istanbul, adorned with Byzantine architecture. It is also known as Kariye Mosque, Kariye Museum, or Chora museum. The main reason for the worldwide fame of this Church is its mosaics. The magnificent building and design attract tourists to this masterpiece. The Chora Church is now used as a mosque but is widely known as a church because Christianity prayers had been offered there for a pretty long time. It holds an entire history of change and raises another level of curiosity in a traveler’s heart and mind.
The Story of the Chora Church – History and Construction
History of The Chora Church
The Chora Church or Chora Mosque is one of Istanbul, Turkey’s ancient and glorious places. Due to its fantastic architecture and religious portrayal inside the mosque, it is under the spotlight for tourists. This Mosque attracts tourists to its magnificent building and spectacular design.
It was built as a part of a monastery complex in the 4th century. It was a Greek orthodox church. Theodosius II built its land walls, and then this Church came under the city’s boundary.
During the rule of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, the Chora Church was reconstructed. Theodore Metochites, a Byzantine bureaucrat, hired professional Byzantine architects. They made mosaics illustrating the life of Mary and Jesus. The scenes of these artistic mosaics were taken from the Bible.
The Chora Church was converted to a mosque after the fall of Constantinople. Atik Ali Pasha ordered to cover the mosaics of the Chora Church with plaster of Paris, as these images are not allowed to build in mosques according to Islamic laws.
Two persons from the Byzantine Institute of America and the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies restored these mosaics through a restoration project. This mosque was then converted to a museum in 1958. The mosaics on the walls and ceiling are masterpieces of Byzantine art that blow the minds of tourists.
In 2020, the Turkish government converted it into a mosque again. Now all Islamic practices are performed in this place.
Architecture and Design of The Chora church
The adorned great walls of Chora Church are even more attractive than many other famous mosques due to ancient intricated graphics. It comes second after Hagia Sofia due to its beauty and attractiveness. Byzantine architecture and design have provided it with a unique style and charm. The Chora Church mosaics are famous worldwide and contribute to 90% beauty of the Church.
Interior of The Chora Church
When you enter into Kariye Mosque, there is an outer corridor depicting the life of Jesus. The Kariye Mosque has a total of 4 sections.
● Outer Narthex
● Inner Narthex
● The Nave
● Outer Narthex
The outer narthex is the first outer corridor of the Chora Church. The mosaics of Chora Church in the outer corridor depict the life of Jesus. Different representations through pictures look so real that tourists sometimes get immersed in these depictions.
● Inner Narthex
The mosaics of Chora Church in the inner narthex depict the life of a virgin, Mary. The representations for this section are taken from the apocryphal Bible. On the south of this section, the miracles of Jesus are depicted in pictures. The door from the south of the inner narthex leads to Parecclesion, also called the burial chapel.
This part of the Church was mainly made for the burial of Theodore Metochites. It also has some fantastic scenes on the walls taken from Bible. These scenes specifically depict Judgemental day. Some mosaics in Chora Church are of famous patriarchs of the past and Christian martyrs.
● The Nave
This part of the Church is relatively simple, and like other parts, it also depicts Mary and Jesus’ life with some pictures and scenes.
The Chora Church or Kariye Mosque – An Amazing Place to Visit
The Chora Church has gained massive popularity when Kariye Museum was converted into a mosque in the past few years. Nowadays, thousands of Muslims visit this place to offer prayers daily, and millions of tourists come to feel the air of change in this mosque.
Why Should You Visit?
If we talk about its building and design, the Chora Church is the only piece in itself. The antique and unique design adorned with Christianity and Muslim culture amalgam creates another level of impact in the mind of a traveler.
Therefore, this place is worth seeing by its emotional history of change. The pictures or portrays of Christian and Muslim religious practices are intricated on the walls that attract people to click pictures and save these unique portrays in their cameras.
Chora Church remains open the entire week.
In winters from 9 am to 5 pm.
In summers, from 9 am to 7 pm
Kariye Mosque remains closed for tourists during prayer timings, as Muslims offer prayer during this time, so tourists are not allowed to visit the mosque. But tourists can offer prayer there without any restriction.
What Is the Ideal Time to Visit?
The best time to visit this Mosque is on working days as the place becomes crowded on weekends. Besides prayer, timings are ideal for visiting the mosque as the mosque gets closed for tourists to offer prayer.
Exciting Things About the Chora Church, Istanbul, Turkey
- The most exciting thing about the Chora Church is its mosaics, which are still intact, and they are masterpieces of Byzantine art.
- The Chora Church was first converted to a mosque, then to a museum, and then in 2020 to a mosque again.
- Some Judgemental day depictions in the Chora Church’s mosaics are not found in any other place in the world.
- The layer of plaster of Paris saved the Church’s mosaics from earthquakes and other hazards for a long time. That layer was built when this Church was converted to a mosque for the first time.
When this Church was converted into a museum, the management used to charge 65 TL as an entrance fee or ticket fee. But now, it is converted into a mosque, and no fee is charged for entry into a mosque by the Turkish Government.
How to Reach?
There is no metro stop near the Kariye mosque, so it is better to reach Chora Church by taxi. The Chora Church is on the west of the Historical Peninsula.
If you are going from Sultanahmet, you can get a tram to reach the Eminonu stop. From Eminonu, you shall reach Edirnekapi Stop, and you can either walk towards Kariye mosque (5 minutes) or take a taxi to get there.
If you are going from Taksim Square, you can get a bus to Edirnekapi. From Edirnekapi bus Stop, you can walk to this mosque in 5 minutes or take a taxi.
If you have a taste for visiting a place rich in intricate architecture, then Kariye Mosque is the best place for you to visit. Kariye Mosque is an amalgam of Christian and Muslim architecture, which leaves a totally different impact on its visitors. The Chora Church is of the most famous and most visited places in Istanbul, Turkey. You will surely get a unique and unforgettable experience visiting this Church.