Chora Church (Kariye Muzesi)

16:32 Alyson Tart 1 Comments

I have always said that Chora Church is one of the most under visited tourist sites in Istanbul. When I asked a native Istanbullu (or is it Istanbullian? Istanbulite?) what I must see in Istanbul and she responded Kariye Museum, I knew I had to be right.

Chora Church is one of my absolute favorite spots to visit, but because its a bit off the beaten path of Sultanahmet, people don't venture out that far.

So what is it that makes Chora Church so special? People flock to Aya Sofia and love the tiled mosaics there but don't even realize that Chora Church is full of similar mosaics that are much better preserved. Because Chora Church's mosaics weren't worked on until the 1950's, they are in great condition compared to Aya Sofia, as if the plaster preserved them in time. Of course they aren't perfect, the building was built in the 11th century and the mosaics added in the 14th century.

Even if you aren't a bible buff (which I make no claims to be - all explanations are thanks to my wonderful and worn Rick Steve's book left by my friend), you can still enjoy the church. Don't forget to take your sunglasses off your head as you will spend most of the time staring up at the ceilings. When you come out at the end with your neck a bit sore, you can use that as your excuse to visit a hamam for a nice massage.

The Resurrection - here Jesus descends into hell and is
saving Adam and Eve from their coffins.
Journey of the Magi and presentation of the gifts to Herord

View of the exterior Narthex - in the front
right hand corner you can see the miracle
of Jesus turning water to wine

In the top is the temptation of Christ (devil represented by
the dark angel)

The nativity scene

The Massacre of the innocents is illustrated - when Herod
ordered the murder of male children to find baby Jesus

Biblical Genealogy of Christ - here Christ is surrounded
by figures from the old testament like Adam and Noah
So if it's so hard to get to, how do you get there?
  1. Take a taxi - as always, be careful in Sultanahmet to make sure you don't get a gypsy cab. It should have a meter which starts off at 2.70 TL.
  2. Take the tram - from Sultanahmet, take the tram to Topaki stop (not to be confused with the stop where Topkapi palace is located. This stop is further down). Here transfer to the rail and ride to Edirnekapi stop. Once you get off, turn to face the city walls and walk towards them across the traffic. Take a left past the bus stop on Viz Sokak and then right on Kariye Camii Sokak.
  3. Take the bus - from Taksim, take the #87 bus to the Edirnekapi stop. Here, facing the city wall, the church is in your right. Follow the same instructions as above.
Unless you are like me and a little prone to getting lost, it really isn't too hard to find. While you're in the area, wander the city walls for great views of the city too.

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