The Chora is the jewel of the Byzantine heritage in Istanbul. Chora means “country” and “the country”. “Country” because Mother Mary is the dwelling place for Jesus. That is why her title is Mother of God. “The country” because the church was in the countryside when it was first built. Therefore it was first built certainly before the time of Theodosius II who constructed the city defense wall system. It was rebuilt in 11th and 12th centuries in the reign of Comnenus family.

There were some additions made in early 14th century in the reign of Palelogos family. In this last chapter of history the church was decorated with remarkable mosaics and frescoes mainly by the efforts of Grand Logothete Theodore Metochites. We see him in the entrance of the nave presenting his work, Chora church to Jesus.

Inner and outer narthex ceilings and upper part of the walls are full of mosaics about the life cycle of Mary and Jesus.

There is the wonderfully well-preserved mosaic of the Dormition of Mary in the main part of the church. The side chapel is full of incredible frescoes. In the apse of the chapel the Resurrection (or Harrowing of the Hell) painting is a masterpiece. Interestingly they are from the Old Testament. Where ever there must be a painting of God there is the representation of Mother Mary and child Jesus.

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