27 June 2012

Chora Museum

Glimpse of land walls from taxi
"Chora" means "in the country", and the Kariye Museum at Chora  is in fact a 12 - 15 TL taxi ride from the Eminou area.  Of course, Istanbul's urban sprawl now extends way past Chora,  which is just inside the Land Walls (as extended).   We sighted these when we made the trip out after our cruise on Thursday.

There is a good view back over the city area from the museum grounds.

The museum was previously the church of St Saviour which dates from the early 12th century (although it was sacked by the Fourth Crusade, and later restored and extended).   Its significance is that it contains numerous remarkably well-preserved Byzantium mosaics and frescoes, said to date from the 13th and 14th centuries.  They were covered with plaster while the building was used as a mosque from 1511, and restored between 1945 and 1958.
In fact, the number of frescoes and mosaics is almost over-whelming.  They include several series, such as the Cycle of Christ's Ministry, and the life story of Mary (to mention just two). I couldn't describe them all.   However, photography (without flash) is freely permitted, so here are some samples (although my photography doesn't really do justice to the scenes).

Christ holding the inscription "Come to me all you who are weary & burdened and I will give you rest"
Fresco of the "the Harrowing of Hell", with Christ raising Adam and Eve
EDIT:   I now understand that this depict- Christ's descent into Hades to (after His crucifixion and death on the cross) to bring the good news of the resurrection to Adam, Eve, and all those departed, imprisoned.  At the bottom you can see how the "gates of hell" have been shattered by Christ's overcoming of death.
One of the domes, depicting the Virgin and Child at the apex and figures from the genealogy in the fluting

Christ Pantocrator (inscription is "Land of the Living")

St Paul, holding Bible

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