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Chora Museum in Istanbul

Chora Museum in Istanbul

Chora Museum Istanbul is one of the most beautiful Byzantine churches located in the neighborhood of Edirnekapi. It is a must-see, a pure Byzantine wonder!

History of Chora Museum Istanbul

“Chora” means “in the countryside” because the church has been built outside of the Constantinople city, that is to say after the ramparts from the 4th century.

When the Theodosian wall was built in 413-414, the emperor Theodosius decided to leave the church in the defensive system and keep its name Chora Museum Istanbul. At the capture of Constantinople in 1453 (the time at which Byzantium ends), Sultan MEHMET II the conqueror decides to transform certain churches into mosques.

From this date, other Sultans followed this decision, such as Sultan BAYEZID II.

In 1511, he transformed the church into a mosque and renamed it “Kariye”, which comes from the Greek meaning “in the countryside”. Other churches remained for Christians of the city.

Chora Museum
Chora Museum


Despite the fact that in Islam, the reproduction of faces is prohibited during the transformation of churches, successive sultans have always kept intact the frescoes and mosaics of these Christian places of worship by hiding them with plaster and wood to protect them, out of respect and love of art!

At the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1922, MUSTAFA KEMAL ATATÜRK decided to transform these old churches and new mosques into Chora Museum Istanbul. What a wonderful surprise came out when plaster and wood were removed from the walls!

Several centuries of history resurface such as more or less intact Christian mosaics and frescoes, mostly very well preserved, thanks to the decision taken by Muslim Sultans several centuries before so that today English-speaking people can come and admire these Byzantine wonders!

Chora Museum Istanbul can be visited in summer from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in winter from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It is closed on Wednesdays (ravioli day).

There is an entrance fee.

If you liked Chora Museum, you will certainly like the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia!