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Chora Church
Holiday Travel Guide

Visit the stunningly beautiful museum and admire the magnificent mosaics and intricate frescoes adorning the walls of this ancient church.

Sitting in the heart of the Edirnekapı district, just west of the city centre, lies one of Istanbul’s greatest treasures. Widely considered one of the most beautiful churches surviving from the Byzantine era, the serene Chora Church and Kariye Museum is a fitting custodian of the magnificent 14th-century mosaics and frescoes that adorn its interior.

Having survived centuries of invasion, natural disaster, reparation and reconstruction, this ancient site has been home to some form of religious building since the 4th century, when Emperor Constantine decreed a church be built just west of the city walls. This original church was known as “The Church of the Holy Saviour Outside the Walls”, sometimes shortened to "Chora" which literally means "outside of the city". The Turkish word “Kariye”, used in the church's later incarnation as a mosque, has the very same meaning.

Sometime later in the 5th century, the city walls were expanded by Emperor Theodosius II and the church officially came within the municipal boundary of Constantinople. Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law of Alexius I Comnenus, further renovated the church in the 11th century and, although it has undergone many improvements, repairs and changes in the intervening years, including its conversion into a mosque in the 16th century, it is this 11th-century church that is home to the present-day Kariye Museum.

While the exterior of the church is arresting enough in its glory, the exquisite interior will truly take your breath away. As you wander through the sacred space, take in the extraordinary mosaics and pristine frescoes that depict the life of Christ and stories from the Old Testament. All around, decorated arched ceilings feed into intricately detailed walls. Each delicate mosaic and fresco is a stunning masterpiece in its own right, but do keep a special eye out for the Deesis (Christ in Majesty), the Mosaic of the Koimesis in the main body of the church and the Virgin Mother with child in the north dome of the inner narthex.

Before you leave this impressive structure, make your way up onto the enormous Theodosian city walls for a breathtaking view of Istanbul. The city’s turbulent history is quite literally written into this centuries-old bulwark, with intricate Greek and Ottoman writings carved into the crumbling cannon-marked stonework.

The Chora Church and Kariye Museum is easily one of Turkey’s most impressive museums and, while it may not be on the traditional tourist trail, it is most certainly worth the little effort it takes to seek it out.

Top things to do in Chora Church

Top 10 Hotels Near Chora Church

The Marmara Pera
The Marmara Pera
4 out of 5
Mesrutiyet Cad. Tepebasi, Istanbul, Istanbul
Free cancellationReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is RM250 per night from 18 Mar to 19 Mar

This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located in the entertainment district, within a 15-minute walk of Galata Tower and Mixer. Taksim Square and Suleymaniye ...

4/5Very Good! (972 reviews)

"The view of the hotel is excellent. The rooms are cleaned on a daily basis, the staff are cheerful at all times and they have 24 hour room service"…"

Reviewed on 22 Nov 2020

The Marmara Pera
DoubleTree by Hilton Istanbul Topkapi
DoubleTree by Hilton Istanbul Topkapi
5 out of 5
Orta Mahalle, Anit Sokak: No: 1, Bayrampasa, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM228 per night from 6 Mar to 7 Mar

Located in Istanbul City Center, this luxury hotel is 1 mi (1.7 km) from Axis Istanbul and 1.9 mi (3.1 km) from Historia Fatih Shopping Centre. Grand Bazaar ...

3.9/5Good! (686 reviews)

"Absolutely amazing services. Staff was so kind & cooperative. Nice place to stay."…"

Reviewed on 12 Jan 2021

DoubleTree by Hilton Istanbul Topkapi
Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul
Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul
5 out of 5
Visnezade Mah. Acisu Sok. NO. 19, Macka Besiktas, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM767 per night from 6 Mar to 7 Mar

This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located in the historical district, within 1 mi (2 km) of City's Nişantaşı Shopping Center, Dolmabahce Palace and Taksim ...

4.6/5Wonderful! (941 reviews)

"The staff of breakfast eara were professional n kind ,we got a good service n hospitality every single day also the restaurant up stairs had a good service n nice view of ocean which we enjoy it a lot In general everything was great n they were professional We had our COVID test in hotel that was ..."…"

Reviewed on 4 Mar 2021

Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Chora Church

Chora Church

Top Chora Church Hotel Deals

The Marmara Pera
The Marmara Pera
4 out of 5
Mesrutiyet Cad. Tepebasi, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM250 per night from 18 Mar to 19 Mar
The Marmara Pera
DoubleTree by Hilton Istanbul Topkapi
DoubleTree by Hilton Istanbul Topkapi
5 out of 5
Orta Mahalle, Anit Sokak: No: 1, Bayrampasa, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM228 per night from 6 Mar to 7 Mar
DoubleTree by Hilton Istanbul Topkapi
Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul
Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul
5 out of 5
Visnezade Mah. Acisu Sok. NO. 19, Macka Besiktas, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM767 per night from 6 Mar to 7 Mar
Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul
Kariye Oteli - Special Class
Kariye Oteli - Special Class
Kariye Camii Sok No 6 Edirnekapi, Istanbul, Istanbul
Kariye Oteli - Special Class
Noi Suites
Noi Suites
Dervisali Mah. Vaiz Sok. No:1, Fatih, Istanbul, Istanbul
Noi Suites
Elele Boutique Aparts
Elele Boutique Aparts
Toptanci Sk. 35, Ayvansaray, Istanbul, Fatih
The price is RM241 per night from 12 Mar to 13 Mar
Elele Boutique Aparts
Ottobalat
Ottobalat
Balat Mah. Ayan caddesi No:12/1, Fatih, Istanbul, Istanbul
Ottobalat
Rooftop Balat Rooms & Apartments Turkuaz Olive
Rooftop Balat Rooms & Apartments Turkuaz Olive
Hizir Cavus Koprubasi Sk. 45, Istanbul, Istanbul
Rooftop Balat Rooms & Apartments Turkuaz Olive
Dosso Dossi Hotels & Spa Downtown
Dosso Dossi Hotels & Spa Downtown
5 out of 5
Vatan Caddesi No:46-48 Fatih, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM311 per night from 11 Mar to 12 Mar
Dosso Dossi Hotels & Spa Downtown
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.