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New openings in 2024

The St. Saviour in Chora (Kariye) is re-opened after years of restorations as a mosque and a museum.

Entrance fees in 2024

As of 1st of March 2024, many State museums' fees are set in Euros, to be paid its equivalent in Turkish Liras.

Museum Pass

You can buy the "Museum Pass" for foreigners which is valid for 5 days in various museums of Istanbul.

Museums open 7 days

Many State museums in Istanbul operate 7 days a week, except Topkapi Palace.

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Kariye mosque - Chora church

Kariye in IstanbulThe Chora Church, known as Kariye in Turkish, has one of the best examples of Byzantine mosaic art. The building today is located at Kariye neighborhood near Edirnekapi city walls over the Golden Horn. Originally a Christian church, it was converted into a mosque after the Conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans. After the Republic it was used as a museum of Byzantine mosaics and frescoes until end of October 2020, when it's re-converted to mosque.

The church was originally built in the early 5th century outside the first wall of Constantinople, as the name Chora means "countryside" in Greek. It's original name was St. Saviour in Chora and it was a small monastery just outside of the city. Later on, it was destroyed by earthquakes and abandoned for many centuries until the area was inhabited after the city walls were enlarged thus the neighborhood remained within Constantinople.

Chora church was rebuilt in the 11th century by Maria Ducaena, the mother-in-law of Alexius I Comnenus. It was restored in the 12th century by Isaac Comnenus after some earthquakes and finally rebuilt again by Theodore Metochites, responsible of the Byzantine treasury and the art at that time, in the 14th century. Most of the mosaics and frescos we can admire today are from this last restoration.

After the Conquest of Constantinople, the Ottomans converted the church to a mosque and named as Kariye Camii (Kariye Mosque). The mosaics and frescoes were covered with a plaster because of the prohibition of images in Islam, a Mihrab was added, and a minaret was built outside. In the beginning of the 20th century the minaret collapsed on the dome because of an earthquake, thus the dome was rebuilt but mosaics were lost.

After the Republic, experts on the Byzantine art came to Istanbul to work on the restorations of the Chora in order to uncover fantastic mosaics and frescoes. It was opened to the public as a museum in 1958. In September 2020 it's re-converted to mosque and closed for restorations. In May 2024, Kariye is re-opened for prayers and for visits.

Byzantine mosaics of Chora churchThe Kariye has the best Byzantine mosaics in Istanbul, similar to the ones in Ravenna - Italy. Many mosaics in the narthex and inner narthex describe the life of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary, with citations from the Old and New Testaments. In the Paraclesion, which is the side corridor, you can view great frescoes such as the Resurrection (Anastasis) or the last judgment (Deesis). In the nave, the Dormition of the Virgin (Koimesis) mosaic is impressive. During the visit you're not allowed to use flash while taking photographs indoors.

The typical Ottoman neighborhood with wooden and colorful houses outside the building is also very interesting to stroll around. Just a few minutes on foot from the mosque, you can also see the city wall and the Tekfur Palace, or visit Mihrimah Sultan mosque.

Kariye Camii
Edirnekapi, Fatih
Phone: +90 212 6319241

Hope to see you soon in Istanbul.