Chora Museum

The Chora Museum is one of the most impressive Byzantine churches in Istanbul

The area where the church is today was a martyrdom, hence it was known as a holy area since the 4th century.  As it was located outside the city walls it is called Chora which means field in Greek.

The earliest date of the original complex building is unknown but according to some records the church was built in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian, after an earthquake in 557 AD.

Constantinople is notoriously known to be on a fault line that caused many serious earthquakes in history thus the Chora Church was destroyed and rebuilt several times.

The building we see today was built in the early 13th century by Theodore Metochites, a member of a wealthy, aristocrat family. He also adorned the interior with wonderful mosaics and frescos.

After the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottomans in 1453 like most of the other Byzantine churches Chora was also converted into a mosque and the mosaics and frescos were plasetered. In 1945 the plaster was removed and the building was converted into a museum.

The building has traditional Byzantine features like the outer and inner narthex, the naos and peraclession (chapel).

The narthexes have wonderful mosaic scenes from the Apocrypha scriptures. The scenes that were depicted in the narthexes are from the Protevangelion of St. James and focuses on the early life of Virgin Mary. It shows parts of Mary’s life from her childhood, her time in the Temple, engagement with Jozef etc.

The art work in the peraclession (additional chapel) is frescos. The frescos depict scenes from the Gospel of Nicodemus. The Gospel of Nicodemus focuses on the trial of Jesus and his death but the most important part is Jesus Christ’s time in the Hades (land of the dead) where he went for 3 days before his resurrection. The beautiful Anastasis (ressurrection) scene on the Apsis is one of the most famous byzantine artwork. The scene depicts Jesus Christ in Hades resurrecting Adam and Eve.

The Chora Museum is one of the most impressive monuments in Istanbul and add richness to the cities history and culture.

Please contact us if you would like to include this site into your itinerary. Our professional tour guides will be more than glad to share their knowledge with you.