Chora Museum or Kariye Muzesi is probably one of the top ten places to visit in Istanbul. Tracing the history of this 14th century Byzantine church would enlighten one and all about the fate of so many architectural spaces throughout Istanbul. The name Chora means ‘outside the walls’ since it was built in early 5th century as part of a monastery complex outside of Constantine 4th century city walls . It was rebuilt by Justinian in the 6th century, rebuilt again by Maria Dukaina, in late 11th century and then finally rebuilt again by the statesman Theodore Metochites (the frescoes and mosaics are from this time)
Fifty years after the Turkish conquest of 1453 it was turned into a mosque and the frescoes and mosaics were covered till 1948 when excavation work started to recover them. Chora has been a museum since 1958
There is a great website with detailed information about the Chora – http://www.choramuseum.com/ and an iTunes app that I strongly recommend.
Chora is not the easiest place to get to. Even though I know Istanbul and speak the language it was challenging for me to get there as well. Our professor told us to meet at the Edirnekapi busstop…
All the busstops I encircled in Red are called Edirnekapi. But I practiced my favorite Turkish saying “Sora sora Bagdat bulunur” “You can even find Baghdad by asking and asking”… and I found it!