Chora Church is the most interesting Byzantine church after Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. The importance of the church comes from the frescoes and the mosaics, which are superb and reflect the magnificient heritage of Byzantine Art. The Chora Church Museum is open every day from 9 a.m to 4:30 p.m except Wednesday.
The word “Chora” means “in the countryside” in Greek because of the original church which was outside the city walls. There are no remains left from the original church and the first form of the present structure dates back to 11C. The church was founded by Maria Doukaina, mother-in-law of Alexius Comnenos I between 1077-1081.
Today’s church was constructed after two centuries, the walls were revetted with superb mosaics and a pareclession was added decorated with beautiful frescoes. The founder of the church was Theodore Metochites who served as a prime minister during the time of Emperor Andronicus Palaeologus I. He was also an astronomer, poet, theologian and philosopher.
He lived a very sad life, after Palaeologus was replaced by another emperor, he was sent to exile. After he came back to Konstantinople, he devoted himself to the church as a monk and he died there. Early in the 16th century, the church was converted to a mosque by Atik Ali Paşa and the mosaics were covered with plaster. In 1970s, it was restored by Byzantine Institute of America and opened as a museum in 1958. The mosaics in Chora Museum dates back to 14th century.