Chora church, the lost jewel of Istanbul

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9 months ago

Istanbul has long been known as a city with many ancient cultural treasures; But apart from the obvious places in this old city, there is a jewel that is less noticed; The Chora Church, also known as the Chora Museum or the Kariye Museum, is one of Istanbul's top attractions.

The Chora Church was completely rebuilt in the 11th century by the mother of Alexius I, then by the King of Byzantium at the beginning of the Crusades, but was not very durable and was damaged in the 12th century by a series of earthquakes, but the Byzantine king Isaac Comnenus rebuilt the church.

But again, the building was damaged over time, until finally a man named Theodore Metvkits, who was in charge of Byzantine art in the 14th century, tried to restore the church, and during this reconstruction, he added valuable and eye-catching mosaics, But this was not the end of the work of this church because the Ottomans occupied Istanbul and turned this church into a mosque, and by doing so, all the paintings and mosaics were covered with plaster, and an altar and minaret were added to the construction, which today By entering this building, you can easily see the altar inside and the minaret on the outside of the building.

With the fall of the Ottoman Turks and the coming to power of the Government of the Republic of Turkey, the building was re-examined and specialists went to the building to find mosaics, which, of course, were successful until finally in 1958. This building was able to open its doors to tourists not as a church but as a museum.

The entrance door of Chora Church on the west side of the building divides this structure into two external and internal porches in the northern and southern parts. The outer vestibule is a 23-meter corridor that you will encounter at the beginning of the entrance to the church and its extension connects to the inner vestibule; Going to the eastern part, you can also see the inner porch.

Upon entering the building and the vestibule, you will encounter brilliant mosaics that tell the story of Joseph's dream and a trip to Bethlehem, tax registration, the taking of Christ to Jerusalem for the Passover, the birth of Jesus, the return of the Holy Family from Egypt narrates the baptism of Jesus, the temptation of Christ, the miracle in Cana, the massacre of the innocent, and the healing of the paralysis in Capernaum by Christ and the three Magi before King Herod.

The inner vestibule is four meters wide and about 18 meters long, although smaller, but with paintings such as the healing of a blind man by Christ, the proclamation of the Virgin, the rejection of Joachim's offers, the first seven steps of the Virgin, the genealogy of Christ, the birth of Mary, The story of the seven holy steps of the mother of Christ, the delivery of food to the Blessed Virgin by the divine angels, the praise of the Lord by the Blessed Virgin Mary and the miracles of Christ host the visitors.

The inner vestibule leads to two doors, one opening to the main church hall and the other to the chapel. This porch has two domes, one in the northern part and the other between the main hall and the small church.

There are two domes in the inner porch. The southern dome is 3.74 meters in diameter and has 24 grooves on it. Above it is a picture of Christ and in the grooves are 39 portraits of his ancestors, which show the genealogy of Christ. This genealogy begins with Adam. Around the dome are also depicted some of the miracles of Christ. The north dome of the inner vestibule is designed with a diameter of 3.47 meters and two rows of five-window grooves. At the top is the image of the Virgin Mary and the infancy of Christ, and in the grooves are the ancestors of the Virgin Mary with the sixteen kings of the family of David.

The small church of Chora is famous for its impressive mosaics and two tablets of Prophet Moses. The subjects of the paintings in this section are the power of salvation of Christ and the Virgin Mary, which gives the good news of salvation and deliverance to the faithful. In addition, in the chapters of this section, the issue of salvation is depicted in combination with the last judgment or the resurrection of Christ, in which Christ sits in judgment and triumphs over death and saves the righteous.

In the center of the small church of Chora Church, you will find a large dome, which is the largest dome after the main dome with a diameter of 4.5. In addition, there are small and large tombs in the palace, which were originally a place to bury the founders of this building and influential people of history. The chapel is also used for funerals and burials, and this is reflected in the mosaics of this section depicting scenes of resurrection and life after death.

Passing through the inner porch and the door that opens to the main courtyard of the church, the other three domes of the Chora church can be seen, one of which is larger than the other two. The dome at the top of the altar dates back to the Ottoman period and replaced the dome that collapsed due to the earthquake.

In the main hall of the church, mosaics with the image of Jesus and the face of the Blessed Virgin Mary can be seen. The main hall of Chora Church is surprisingly simple and evangelizes silence and tranquility; It is as if he wants to remember that the main building is a monastery. The main grounds of the church are about 10 by 15 meters and the floor and walls are covered with marble. In addition, it is given a rich appearance by using green, blue, yellow and pink stones; Stones brought from various parts of South Africa.


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Written by
9 months ago