The Chora Church of the Holy Savior in Constantinople/Istanbul (early AD 400s)
The Chora Church of the Holy Savior was built in the early 400s and is located in the western section of
Istanbul’s Fatih district. The word Chora means “rural country,” and refers to the church’s original location out- side of Constantine’s walls. When emperor Theodosius II built his land walls in 413–414, the church was incorporated within the city, but it kept the name Chora.
The original Chora Church was built as part of a monastery complex. The majority of the present six-dome building dates from 1077 to 1081, at which time the church was rebuilt into a cross shape. Around 1500—about fifty years after the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople—Chora Church became a mosque called the Kariye Mosque. Because Islam forbids icons and images, the church’s beautiful frescoes and mosaics were covered over with a heavy layer of plaster. When the Chora Church stopped functioning as a mosque in 1948, its interior was restored and it was opened to the public as a museum in 1958.