Chora Church mosaics

Kariye Camii, the Church of St. Saviour in Chora, is tagged “after Hagia Sophia the most interesting Byzantine church in the City … because of the superb series of mosaics and frescoes which it preserves and which have been magnificently restored and cleaned by the Byzantine Institute of America” (Strolling Through Istanbul). The church was included in our museum pass.

The Chora Church is a bit off the beaten track. Take the Beyazit tram west to the Tokapi station, and you find yourself outside the Theodosian walls, in a pleasant park. We walked northward for half an hour, following the wall, navigating huge roadways with no accommodation for pedestrians.

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Built 412-22 CE with 11 gates and 192 towers, the walls of Theodosius II defined the western limits of Byzantium and (in the words of our Eyewitness guidebook) “sealed Constantinople’s landward side against invasion for more than a thousand years.”

0 Sept Tours pcThe Fortress of Seven Towers is in another direction; this postcard view gives a sense of the scale of the walls.

At some point we crossed the wall and started looking for the church. Without either map or GPS, that was a chore. We took to asking passing tourists for help. The terrain was hilly and the little streets busy. Once there we had lots of company, with tours and all. The Strolling guidebook devotes twenty-four pages to the Church and its art works. Much of which is on the ceilings. You do a lot of craning.

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