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Chora Church tour

The Chora Church tour has a full chapter in the RS Istanbul guidebook 8th edition, pages 212-228.

We were eager to see the mosaics and eventually found our way to Chora Church, only to find it closed for renovation and being converted into a mosque (2 April 2022). The kind folks at the Pembe cafe next door said the Chora Church/Mosque/Museum would be closed for at least another year. Disappointing - - - don't know when I will be back in Istanbul again.

Yes - sadly (as of April 2022) this is true. I just returned from the "Best of Turkey" trip yesterday. We were the first tour in Turkey post-Pandemic. I arrived early just to see the Chora Church. Alas it was closed. However, I had a wonderful trip, and plan to return to Turkey when the Chora Church, Blue Mosque, and the Cisterns are all open again!

Posted by
46 posts

Yes it was closed, very sad and disappointing. But I did Rick Steves 'City Walls' tour from his Istanbul book, which starts at the Church, and it was an awesome and enlightening walking tour! I did the walking tour in the early morning and was back in plenty of time for our first group meeting (Best of Turkey in 13 days, starting March 28 and ending on April 9).

Posted by
1394 posts

That is really unfortunate. I hope they preserve the artwork in situ.

Posted by
1219 posts

Wait a minute, the Chora Church and Cisterns are closed? We were thinking of signing up for the Turkey tour for 2023 but Chora (with its' Byzantine artwork preserved) and the Cistern are must-sees for me. Might have to rethink this.

Posted by
4583 posts

These will be a great excuse for me to go back because I know I'm going to love Turkey.... less than 2 weeks to go!

Posted by
2464 posts

I saw the Chora Church in 2018 when we arrived early for our Best of Turkey tour. It was wonderful to see! I’m sorry it’s closed for renovation now and being converted to a mosque. Does that mean they will cover up the Christian mosaics? That would be a terrible loss.

Posted by
691 posts

@ jlkelman -

Although the Basilica Cistern is closed for renovation, the Cistern of Theodosius, which is older but smaller than the Basilica Cistern, is open. Unfortunately, they have also added a mandatory sound and light show at the Theodosius Cistern --- I would rather just see the cistern. Sigh. Theodosius Cistern is still interesting, though.

I suspect that the Chora Museum/Mosque will be closed for a good while. UNESCO was not happy when the Turkish government started talking about covering the mosaics, and I understand that they are still negotiating a compromise. I doubt that much actual renovation will begin until UNESCO and Turkey reach some sort of agreement.

The big disappointment at the Hagia Sophia is that they don't let you go upstairs anymore. They have also carpeted the lower floor and covered a few Christian references in the main area. It's still one of the most stunning places in the world.

The Blue Mosque is also under renovation. You can go inside, but you can't see much.

The good news is that Suleymaniye Mosque and Rustem Pasha mosque have both re-opened after having been closed for renovation for several years.

Posted by
1219 posts

That is so disappointing! I want to see these places for their Byzantine art and to have it inaccessible and/or covered up makes me think I may need to rethink my plans to go there.

Posted by
1 posts

At our church,, there is an annual promotion for a trip to different temples. This year it was a tour to Chora Church. The Church of the Monastery of the Savior in Chora, now called the Kariye Mosque, is located in a rather remote area, not far from the Edirnekapa Gate and the ruins of the Blachernae Palace. The repeatedly rebuilt church seems like a labyrinth, as it turned out inside. Still, it is easy to navigate - the entrance is from the west. To get to the nave (the temple proper), crowned with a dome on a high light drum, it is necessary to pass two transverse vestibules (narthex). The temple's south (right) side is adjoined by a side-chapel - paresthesias. There are mosaics in the nave and narthexes in the pareklesia - frescos. Personally, I saw such beauty for the first time in my life and was pleased with the trip accordingly.