Istanbul Kariye Museum


The word chora means outside the city, the countryside. Probably a small church which had been built here before the 5th century Roman city walls gave its name to the other churhes built later at the same site. The existing edifice is dated to the 11th-14th centuries. Besides its attractive exterior, the mosaics and frescoes inside are masterpieces of ‘’the Renaissance’’ of Byzantine art.These decorations and the additions built in the 14th century were ordered byTheodore Metochites.

The mosaics panels in the two narthexes upon entering depict scenes from the lives of the Virgin and Christ (as described in the Bible). Frescoes depicting religious themes are in the side chapel. Figures of the members of the palace and the church are seen among them.When the church was converted into a mosque in the beginning of the 16th century,the mosaics and frescoes were covered by whitewash, Starting in 1950, these have been restored and cleaned by the Byzantine Institute of the U.S.A.

The Chora monastery and its church became neighbours with the Imperial Palaces and acquired importance in time.Master craftsmen decorated the building with great care under the difficult conditions present in the 14th. century. The famous scholar and state dignitary of the time, Theodore Metochites, built the side chapel, which was completed during his time. The mosaics panels were created by a group of artisans. The mosaics on the upper sections of the nave have not survived.In Byzantine art, the name or the monogram of the personality depicted used to be inscribed next to the figure.

The vicinity of Kariye Museum which resembles a picture gallery, has been altered in recent times.Some old houses have been restored and turned into cafe and hotels.