The Chora Church was originally built as part of a monastery complex outside the walls of Constantinople. The ancient Greek word Chora means ‘outside of the city’. Literally translated, the church's full name was the Church of the Holy Savior in the Country, although "The Church of the Holy Redeemer in the Fields" would be a more natural rendering of the name in English. It is known that there was a chapel outside of the city before the 5th century when the city walls were erected. The first Chora Church was rebuilt by Justinianus (527-565) in place of this chapel.
The current building was built in the late 11th century, with lots of repairs and restructuring in the following centuries. Virtually all of the interior decoration—the famous mosaics and the less renowned but equally striking mural paintings—dates from about 1320.
After continuing to serve as a church following the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, the building was converted into a mosque in 1511. It was converted into a museum in 1945.
The mosaics and frescoes in the Chora are the most beautiful examples dating from the last period of the Byzantine painting (14th century). The characteristic stylistic elements in those mosaics and frescoes are the depth, the movements and the elongation of figures.
This dome pays homage to Mary as the Mother of God.
The mosaic over the doorway portrays Christ as “The Land of the Living”.
Many of the scenes portrayed are a pictorial ‘Bible Lesson’. The familiar Bible stories were learned and passed on by reviewing the paintings.
The journey of the Magi……
The wedding at Cana with the wine jugs.
This fresco portrays a dramatic Resurrection. This particular picture is known as the Harrowing of Hell, the gates of which lie beneath the feet of Jesus. The two figures rising up from their graves are Adam and Eve.
Michael the Archangel.
The souls in Hell awaiting release……..An angel.
Christ’s healing of the mother-in-law of St Peter.
The Annunciation, when the Angel tells Mary that she will have Jesus.
Mary with her parents.
This is a scene that we had never seen depicted before…..Mary taking her first baby steps to her mother, Ann.
A peacock denoting royalty.
The statesman and patron Theodore Metochites presenting a model of the Chora Church to Christ.
This church was a fascinating example of religious art used as education and the preservation of religious tradition.