Chora Church
Overview
 
The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora (Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 Kariye Müzesi, Kariye Camii, or Kariye Kilisesi — the Chora Museum, Mosque or Church) is considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of a Byzantine
Byzantine architecture
Byzantine architecture is the architecture of the Byzantine Empire. The empire gradually emerged as a distinct artistic and cultural entity from what is today referred to as the Roman Empire after AD 330, when the Roman Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire east from Rome to...

 church. The church is situated in Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

, in the Edirnekapı neighborhood, which lies in the western part of the municipality (belediye) of Fatih
Fatih
Fatih is a municipality and district in Istanbul, Turkey that encompasses most of the peninsula coinciding with historic Constantinople. In 2009, the district of Eminönü, formerly a separate municipality located at the tip of the peninsula, was merged into Fatih...

.
Encyclopedia
The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora (Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 Kariye Müzesi, Kariye Camii, or Kariye Kilisesi — the Chora Museum, Mosque or Church) is considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of a Byzantine
Byzantine architecture
Byzantine architecture is the architecture of the Byzantine Empire. The empire gradually emerged as a distinct artistic and cultural entity from what is today referred to as the Roman Empire after AD 330, when the Roman Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire east from Rome to...

 church. The church is situated in Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

, in the Edirnekapı neighborhood, which lies in the western part of the municipality (belediye) of Fatih
Fatih
Fatih is a municipality and district in Istanbul, Turkey that encompasses most of the peninsula coinciding with historic Constantinople. In 2009, the district of Eminönü, formerly a separate municipality located at the tip of the peninsula, was merged into Fatih...

. In the 16th century, the church was converted into a mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

 by the Ottoman rulers
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, and it became a secularised museum in 1948. The interior of the building is covered with fine mosaic
Mosaic
Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral...

s and fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

es.

History

The Chora Church was originally built outside the walls of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, to the south of the Golden Horn
Golden Horn
The Golden Horn is a historic inlet of the Bosphorus dividing the city of Istanbul and forming the natural harbor that has sheltered Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and other ships for thousands of...

. Literally translated, the church's full name was the Church of the Holy Saviour in the Country: although "The Church of the Holy Redeemer in the Fields" would be a more natural rendering of the name in English. (Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 , hē Ekklēsia tou Hagiou Sōtēros en tēi Chōrai). The last part of that name, Chora, referring to its location originally outside of the walls, became the shortened name of the church. The original church on this site was built in the early 5th century, and stood outside of the 4th century walls of Constantine the Great. However, when Theodosius II
Theodosius II
Theodosius II , commonly surnamed Theodosius the Younger, or Theodosius the Calligrapher, was Byzantine Emperor from 408 to 450. He is mostly known for promulgating the Theodosian law code, and for the construction of the Theodosian Walls of Constantinople...

 built his formidable land walls
Walls of Constantinople
The Walls of Constantinople are a series of defensive stone walls that have surrounded and protected the city of Constantinople since its founding as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire by Constantine the Great...

 in 413–414, the church became incorporated within the city's defences, but retained the name Chora. The name must have carried symbolic meaning, as the mosaics in the narthex
Narthex
The narthex of a church is the entrance or lobby area, located at the end of the nave, at the far end from the church's main altar. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper...

 describe Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 as the Land of the Living and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as the Container of the Uncontainable .

The majority of the fabric of the current building dates from 1077–1081, when Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law of Alexius I Comnenus, rebuilt the Chora Church as an inscribed cross
Cross-in-square
The term cross-in-square or crossed-dome denotes the dominant architectural form of middle- and late-period Byzantine churches. The first cross-in-square churches were probably built in the late 8th century, and the form has remained in use throughout the Orthodox world until the present day...

 or quincunx
Quincunx
A quincunx is a geometric pattern consisting of five points arranged in a cross, that is five coplanar points, four of them forming a square or rectangle and a fifth at its center...

: a popular architectural style of the time. Early in the 12th century, the church suffered a partial collapse, perhaps due to an earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

. The church was rebuilt by Isaac Comnenus, Alexius's third son. However, it was only after the third phase of building, two centuries after, that the church as it stands today was completed. The powerful Byzantine statesman Theodore Metochites
Theodore Metochites
Theodore Metochites was a Byzantine statesman, author, gentleman philosopher, and patron of the arts. From c. 1305 to 1328 he held the position of personal adviser to emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos.- Life :...

 endowed the church with much of its fine mosaic
Mosaic
Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral...

s and fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

s. Theodore's impressive decoration of the interior was carried out between 1315 and 1321. The mosaic-work is the finest example of the Palaeologian Renaissance. The artists remain unknown. In 1328, Theodore was sent into exile by the usurper Andronicus III Palaeologus. However, he was allowed to return to the city two years later, and lived out the last two years of his life as a monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

 in his Chora Church.

During the last siege of Constantinople
Fall of Constantinople
The Fall of Constantinople was the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI...

 in 1453, the Icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

 of the Theotokos
Theotokos
Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God...

 Hodegetria
Hodegetria
A Hodegetria — or Virgin Hodegetria — is an iconographic depiction of the Theotokos holding the Child Jesus at her side while pointing to Him as the source of salvation for mankind...

, considered the protector of the City, was brought to Chora in order to assist the defenders against the assault of the Ottomans.

Around fifty years after the fall of the city to the Ottomans
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, Atık Ali Paşa, the Grand Vizier
Grand Vizier
Grand Vizier, in Turkish Vezir-i Azam or Sadr-ı Azam , deriving from the Arabic word vizier , was the greatest minister of the Sultan, with absolute power of attorney and, in principle, dismissable only by the Sultan himself...

 of Sultan Bayezid II
Bayezid II
Bayezid II or Sultân Bayezid-î Velî was the oldest son and successor of Mehmed II, ruling as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1481 to 1512...

, ordered the Chora Church to be converted into a mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

 — Kariye Camii. Due to the prohibition against iconic images
Iconoclasm
Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction of religious icons and other symbols or monuments, usually with religious or political motives. It is a frequent component of major political or religious changes...

 in Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, the mosaics and frescoes were covered behind a layer of plaster. This and frequent earthquakes in the region have taken their toll on the artwork.

In 1948, Thomas Whittemore
Thomas Whittemore
Thomas Whittemore was a scholar, archaeologist and the founder of the Byzantine Institute of America. He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1871...

 and Paul A. Underwood, from the Byzantine Institute of America
Byzantine Institute of America
The Byzantine Institute of America is an organization founded for the preservation of Byzantine art and architecture. Working with the Turkish government and President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, its greatest notable success is the preservation of the mosaics in Hagia Sophia starting in June 1931...

 and the Dumbarton Oaks
Dumbarton Oaks
Dumbarton Oaks is the conventional name for the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, situated on a historic property in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The institution is administered by the Trustees for Harvard University. Its founders, Robert Woods Bliss and his wife...

 Center for Byzantine Studies, sponsored a programme of restoration. From that time on, the building ceased to be a functioning mosque. In 1958, it was opened to the public as a museum — Kariye Müzesi.

Interior

The Chora Church is not as large as some of the other Byzantine churches of Istanbul (it covers 742.5 m²), but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in the beauty of its interior. The building divides into three main areas: the entrance hall or narthex
Narthex
The narthex of a church is the entrance or lobby area, located at the end of the nave, at the far end from the church's main altar. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper...

, the main body of the church or naos
Nave
In Romanesque and Gothic Christian abbey, cathedral basilica and church architecture, the nave is the central approach to the high altar, the main body of the church. "Nave" was probably suggested by the keel shape of its vaulting...

, and the side chapel or parecclesion. The building has six dome
Dome
A dome is a structural element of architecture that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Dome structures made of various materials have a long architectural lineage extending into prehistory....

s: two in the esonarthex, one in the parecclesion and three in the naos.

Narthex

The main, west door of the Chora Church opens into the narthex
Narthex
The narthex of a church is the entrance or lobby area, located at the end of the nave, at the far end from the church's main altar. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper...

. It divides north-south into the exonarthex and esonarthex.

Exonarthex

The exonarthex (or outer narthex) is the first part of the church that one enters. It is a transverse corridor, 4 m wide and 23 m long, which is partially open on its eastern length into the parallel esonarthex. The southern end of the exonarthex opens out through the esonarthex forming a western ante-chamber to the parecclesion. The mosaics that decorate the exonarthex include:
  1. Joseph's dream and journey to Bethlehem;
  2. Enrollment for taxation;
  3. Nativity, birth of Christ;
  4. Journey of the Magi;
  5. Inquiry of King Herod;
  6. Flight into Egypt;
  7. Two frescoes of the massacres ordered by King Herod;
  8. Mothers mourning for their children;
  9. Flight of Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist;
  10. Joseph dreaming, return of the holy family from Egypt to Nazareth;
  11. Christ taken to Jerusalem for the Passover;
  12. John the Baptist bearing witness to Christ;
  13. Miracle;
  14. Three more Miracles.
  15. Jesus Christ;
  16. Virgin and Angels praying.

Esonarthex

The esonarthex (or inner narthex) is similar to the exonarthex, running parallel to it. Like the exonarthex, the esonarthex is 4 m wide, but it is slightly shorter, 18 m long. Its central, eastern door opens into the naos, whilst another door, at the southern end of the esonarthex opens into the rectangular ante-chamber of the parecclesion. At its northern end, a door from the esonarthex leads into a broad west-east corridor that runs along the northern side of the naos and into the prothesis. The esonarthex has two domes. The smaller is above the entrance to the northern corridor; the larger is midway between the entrances into the naos and the pareclession.
  1. Enthroned Christ with Theodore Metochites
    Theodore Metochites
    Theodore Metochites was a Byzantine statesman, author, gentleman philosopher, and patron of the arts. From c. 1305 to 1328 he held the position of personal adviser to emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos.- Life :...

     presenting a model of his church;
  2. Saint Peter
    Saint Peter
    Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

    ;

  1. Saint Paul
    Paul of Tarsus
    Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

    ;
  2. Deesis
    Deesis
    In Byzantine art, and later Eastern Orthodox art generally, the Deësis or Deisis , is a traditional iconic representation of Christ in Majesty or Christ Pantocrator: enthroned, carrying a book, and flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, and sometimes other saints and angels...

    , Christ and the Virgin Mary (without John the Baptist) with two donors below;
  3. Genealogy of Christ;
  4. Religious and noble ancestors of Christ.


The mosaics in the first three bays of the inner narthex give an account of the Life of the Virgin
Life of the Virgin
The Life of the Virgin, showing narrative scenes from the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a common subject for pictorial cycles in Christian art, often complementing, or forming part of, a cycle on the Life of Christ. In both cases the number of scenes shown varies greatly with the space...

, and her parents. Some of them are as follows:
  1. Rejection of Joachim's
    Joachim
    Saint Joachim was the husband of Saint Anne and the father of Mary, the mother of Jesus in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican traditions. The story of Joachim and Anne appears first in the apocryphal Gospel of James...

     offerings;
  2. Annunciation of Saint Anne
    Saint Anne
    Saint Hanna of David's house and line, was the mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus Christ according to Christian and Islamic tradition. English Anne is derived from Greek rendering of her Hebrew name Hannah...

    , the angel of the Lord announcing to Anne that her prayer for a child has been heard;
  3. Meeting of Joachim and Anne;
  4. Birth of the Virgin Mary;
  5. First seven steps of the Virgin;
  6. The Virgin given affection by her parents;
  7. The Virgin blessed by the priests;
  8. Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple;
  9. The Virgin receiving bread from an Angel;
  10. The Virgin receiving the skein of purple wool, as the priests decided to have the attendant maidens weave a veil for the Temple;
  11. Zechariah
    Zechariah (priest)
    In the Bible, Zechariah , is the father of John the Baptist, a priest of the sons of Aaron, a prophet in , and the husband of Elisabeth who is the cousin of Mary the mother of Jesus.In the Qur'an, Zechariah plays a similar role as the father of John the Baptist and ranks him as a prophet alongside...

     praying, when it was the time to marry for the Virgin, High Priest Zechariah called all the widowers together and placed their rods on the altar, praying for a sign showing to whom she should be given;
  12. The Virgin entrusted to Joseph;
  13. Joseph taking the Virgin to his house;
  14. Annunciation
    Annunciation
    The Annunciation, also referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary or Annunciation of the Lord, is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to Virgin Mary, that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus the Son of God. Gabriel told Mary to name her...

     to the Virgin at the well;
  15. Joseph leaving the Virgin, Joseph had to leave for six months on business and when he returned the Virgin was pregnant and he is suspicious of that.

Naos

The central doors of the esonarthex lead into the main body of the church, the naos. The largest dome in the church (7.7 m diameter) is above the centre of the naos. Two smaller domes flank the modest apse
Apse
In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome...

: the northern dome is over the prothesis, which is linked by short passage to the bema
Bema
The Bema means a raised platform...

; the southern dome is over the diaconicon
Diaconicon
The Diaconicon is, in the Eastern Orthodox and Greek-Catholic Churches, the name given to a chamber on the south side of the central apse of the church, where the vestments, books, etc, that are used in the Divine Services of the church are kept .The Diaconicon contains the thalassidion...

, which is reached via the parecclesion.
  1. Koimesis, the Dormition of the Virgin
    Assumption of Mary
    According to the belief of Christians of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and parts of the Anglican Communion and Continuing Anglicanism, the Assumption of Mary was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her life...

    . Before ascending to Heaven, her last sleep. Jesus is holding an infant, symbol of Mary's soul;
  2. Jesus Christ;
  3. Theodokos, the Virgin Mary with child.

Parecclesion

To the right of the esonarthex, doors open into the side chapel, or parecclesion. The parecclesion was used as a mortuary chapel for family burials and memorials. The second largest dome (4.5 m diameter) in the church graces the centre of the roof of the parecclesion. A small passageway links the parecclesion directly into the naos, and off this passage can be found a small oratory and a storeroom. The parecclesion is covered in fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

es:
  1. Anastasis
    Resurrection
    Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

    , the Resurrection. Christ, who had just broken down the gates of hell, is standing in the middle and pulling Adam and Eve out of their tombs. Behind Adam stand John the Baptist, David, and Solomon. Others are righteous kings;
  2. Second coming of Christ, the last judgment. Jesus is enthroned and on both sides the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist (this trio is also called the Deesis);
  3. Virgin and Child;
  4. Heavenly Court of Angels;
  5. Two panels of Moses.

See also

  • Icon of the Hodegetria
  • Monastery of the Panaghia Hodegetria
    Monastery of the Panaghia Hodegetria
    The Monastery of the Panaghia Hodegetria in Constantinople was founded by Saint Pulcheria , a daughter of Emperor Arcadius.Tradition states that the monastery held the Icon of the Hodegetria, believed to have been painted by Saint Luke. When the icon was sent to Pulcheria, she took a vow of chastity....

  • Church of the Virgin Pammakaristos

Literature

  • Chora: The Kariye Museum. Net Turistik Yayinlar (1987). ISBN 978-9754790450
  • Feridun Dirimtekin. The historical monument of Kariye. Türkiye Turing ve Otomobil Kurumu (1966). ASIN B0007JHABQ
  • Semavi Eyice. Kariye Mosque Church of Chora Monastery. Net Turistik Yayinlar A.S. (1997). ISBN 978-9754794441
  • Çelik Gülersoy. Kariye (Chora). ASIN B000RMMHZ2
  • Jonathan Harris, Constantinople: Capital of Byzantium. Hambledon/Continuum (2007). ISBN 978 1847251794
  • Krannert Art Museum. Restoring Byzantium: The Kariye Camii in Istanbul and the Byzantine Institute Restoration. Miriam & IRA D. Wallach Art Gallery (2004). ISBN 1884919154
  • Robert Ousterhout (Editor), Leslie Brubaker (Editor). The Sacred Image East and West. University of Illinois Press (1994). ISBN 978-0252020964
  • Robert G. Ousterhout. The Architecture of the Kariye Camii in Istanbul. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. (1988). ISBN 978-0884021650
  • Saint Saviour in Chora. A Turizim Yayinlari Ltd. (1988). ASIN B000FK8854
  • Cevdet Turkay. Kariye Mosque. (1964). ASIN B000IUWV2C
  • Paul A. Underwood. The Kariye Djami in 3 Volumes. Bollingen (1966). ASIN B000WMDL7U
  • Paul A. Underwood. Third Preliminary Report on the Restoration of the Frescoes in the Kariye Camii at Istanbul. Harvard University Press (1958). ASIN B000IBCESM
  • Edda Renker Weissenbacher. Kariye: The Chora Church, Step by Step. ASIN B000RBATF8

External links

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