Written for Fethiye Times and with photographs by Sue Fockner-Aşık

I had the good fortune to visit Chora Church (Church of the Holy Saviour of Chora) in Istanbul before it was re-converted to a mosque (Kariye Camii) last year.  

Built as part of a monastery in the 4th century, Chora Church suffered from the ravages of time, wars, and earthquakes, and has been repaired and renovated many times since.  

In the early 16th century, it was converted into a mosque and the frescoes and mosaic artwork were covered in plaster.  (Iconic images are not permitted in the Islamic religion.)   

In 1945, the building was converted into a museum and much of the artwork on the walls and ceilings restored to its former glory.  The museum was opened to the public in 1958 as Kariye Müzesi.  Due to its “off the beaten path” location, the museum was not as popular as Hagia Sofia, but (in my opinion) the artwork is even more impressive.

The building was re-classified as a mosque in 2020.

For additional information about the history of Chora Church / Kariye Camii and a detailed guide to the artwork, visit:

The Byzantine Legacy – Chora:  https://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/chora

Church of Chora – Istanbul’s Byzantine Marvel:  http://www.churchofchora.com/ 

In Photos: Chora Church / Kariye Camii