If you are interested in frescoes or mosaics, then you shouldn’t miss Chora Museum or Kariye Museum in Turkish. The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora adorns people with its walls and ceilings.
Chora is a Greek word meaning outside city (Kariye in Turkish). Chora Museum was first constructed in 5th century, and it was built out of the city that’s why it was called Chora. After an earthquake in 5th century, it was rebuilt in 11th century. It was turned into a mosque – Kariye Camii in 16th century, and in 1948, it started to serve as a museum, just like Hagia Sophia, which turned to mosque and then to a museum.
The mosaics and frescoes in Chora Museum date back to 1312 when Theodore Metochites, who was the auditor of the treasury under Emperor Andronikos II funded the work.
Mosaics tell the story of Christ and Mary life. When it was converted into a mosque, mosaics were covered up so they stayed untouched until Byzantine Institute of America started restoration in 1948.
You should definitely buy audio guide before your visit. It will help you to understand the meaning and the story of the mosaics and frescoes beyond.
Although transportation is not so easy, it is certainly worth visiting, you can get 31E, 36K or 38E bus from Eminonu or you can get a taxi from Sultan Ahmed to Edirnekapi.
You can visit Chora museum free if you have a museum card, if you don’t have a museum card, then you should pay 30 Turkish Liras.
Chora Museum is open all week. It is open from 09:00 to 19:00 in summer and closes at 16:30 in winter.
You can register by your e-mail to Chora museum e-bulletin and get informed about events.
After visiting Chora museum, you can go around and see old wooden houses in the historical area.