The Church of the Holy Savior in Chora is one of the most beautiful Byzantine churches still in existence today. Originally built in the 5th century, it was part of a monastery complex that stood outside the old city walls of what was then Constantinople. The name “Chora” refers to that location and even after it was mostly rebuilt in the early 11th century, the church retained the name.
An earthquake in the 12th century caused a partial collapse of the church and repairs weren’t completed until the early 14th century that it was completed thanks to funding from the great Byzantine statesman, Theodore Metochites. Most of the gorgeous mosaics and frescoes in the building date to that period and represent the best of the Palaeogian Renaissance. The mosaics depict various biblical scenes, including the birth of Christ and the journey of the Magi, as well as major events in the life of the Virgin Mary.
The church was converted to a mosque during the Ottoman period and became a museum in 1948. Due to its somewhat out of the way location, visitors often skip it but due to its history and beauty, it really should be considered a must-see.
The Chora Church is located in the Edirnekapi neighborhood, in the area between the Bazaar District and the old city walls. The best way to get there is to take the Golden Horn ferry from Eminonu to Ayvansaray and walk from there. You might also take the Metro to the Topkapi station. The church is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. , Thursday to Tuesday in the summer and to 4:30 p.m. in the winter months. Admission is 15 Turkish lira.
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