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Kariye or Chora Museum Istanbul

Kariye or Chora Museum Istanbul
Formerly the Church of St. Saviour in Chlora, the Kariye Museum houses a beautiful series of preserved frescoes and mosaics portraying the life of Christ and is among the most significant of Istanbul’s Byzantine treasures.

History

The church was thought to have been built in the early 12th century on top of a much older church. Theodore Metochites, the statesman and scholar, rebuilt the central dome and added to the narthexes and mortuary chapel between 1316 and 1321.  

The Narthexes

The mosaics and frescoes dating from around 1310 are in excellent condition and are shown in a picture book sequence. There are about 50 mosaic panels most of which are in excellent shape. Virtually all the subjects of the mosaics come from the New Testament and they are presented in a rough chronological order.

Inside the outer and inner narthexes (exonarthex and esonarthex) are depictions of scenes from the life of the Virgin and the early life of Christ with mosaics portraying his later life in the nave (naos). Mosaics in the outer narthex include; Joseph and Mary appearing before the Governor of Syria for the census; Nativity of Christ; Journey of the Magi; Inquiry of King Herod; Flight into Egypt; Massacre of the Innocents ordered by King Herod; Mothers mourning for their children; Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist; Joseph dreaming; Return of the holy family from Egypt to Nazareth; Christ taken to Jerusalem for the Passover; John the Baptist bearing witness to Christ; Miracle; Three more miracles; Jesus Christ and Virgin and Angels praying.
Inside the inner narthex the mosaics in the first three bays depict the Life of the Virgin and her parents Anne and Joachim. Other mosaics include; Theodore Metochites dedicates the church to Christ; Saint Peter; Saint Paul; Genealogy of Christ; Rejection of Joachim's offerings; Annunciation of Saint Anne, the angel of the Lord announcing to Anne that her prayer for a child has been heard; Meeting of Joachim and Anne; Birth of the Virgin Mary; First seven steps of the Virgin; The Virgin given affection by her parents; The Virgin blessed by the priests; The Virgin entrusted to Joseph; Joseph taking the Virgin to his house; Annunciation of the Virgin; Joseph leaving the Virgin on a business trip; when he returns, she is pregnant. The Cycle of Christ’s Ministry located in the vaults of the outer narthex includes wonderful scenes of the Temptation of Christ with added dialogue from Matthew 4: 3-10.

The Nave and Funerary Chapel

The best known of all the frescoes are in the funerary chapel (parecclesion) with depictions of the Resurrection, the Last Judgement, Heaven and Hell and the Mother of God with portraits of saints and martyrs below the cornice. Other frescoes in the chapel depict the Second Coming. The Tomb of Metochites is in the north wall of the parecclesion.

Location

Kariye Museum is situated in Eyup .  

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