Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Chora, Church of the Holy Savior in - Istanbul

The Church of the Holy Savior in Chora (Kariye Kilisesi in Turkish) 
would be literally translated as the Church of the Holy Savior in the Country. Chora refers to the location of the church outside of the original walls of Constantinople (built by Constantine in the 300s), when it was built early in the 400s, and it became the shortened name of the church. Theodosius II built land walls in 413 to 414, shortly after Chora was built, putting Chora inside the new walls, but it retained the name Chora. The current church building dates from 1077 to 1081 when Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law of Alexius Comnenus, Byzantine emperor from 1081 to 1118, had the church rebuilt as an inscribed cross, or cross-in-square.  
In this style, the naos (which got its name as the central room in a Greek temple) is in the form of a square, and inside the naos there are four columns which also form a square and divide the room into nine spaces or bays. The central bay is the largest and is crowned by a dome which rests on the four columns. The eight outer bays are covered by four barrel (or tunnel) vaults, two going east/west and two going north/south, along the outside of the inner, central bay. Where the four bays in the four corners of the square are met by the barrel vaults at right angles, groin-vaults (or ribbed-vaults) are formed, which create four diagonal edges along the points where the barrel vaults intersect. The result is that the four bays that directly adjoin the central bay form the arms of the cross, within the square naos, covered by the barrel vaults. The remaining four bays, in each corner of the naos, are outside of the cross and are groin-vaulted. The spatial hierarchy is then mirrored in the outside elevation of the building: the central, domed, bay is taller than the cross arms, which are taller than the corner bays. Besides the naos, Chora has two other main areas. The narthex is the entrance hall and the parecclesion is a side chapel used for family burials and memorials. Between 1315 and 1321, the Byzantine statesman Theodore Metochites (a personal advisor to emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos and one of the richest men of his time) paid for much of Chora's mosaics and frescoes. His donor portrait (Theodore presenting the model of the renovated Chora Church to Christ) is a mosaic in the narthex above the entrance to the nave. 
Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453. In about 1503, Chora was converted into a mosque with one minaret. 
Because of Islam's prohibition against using iconic images, the mosaics and frescoes were covered by plaster. In 1948, Chora ceased to be a mosque and restoration was begun to remove the plaster and restore the frescoes and mosaics. It was opened as a museum in 1958, which it is today. A mosaic of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus are in a dome above the narthex. 
A mosaic of Christ above a doorway in the narthex. 
Just above it, a mosaic of Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana. 
Wedding at Cana
A mosaic of Mary and Joseph registering for the census before Governor Quirinius, governor of Syria with authority over Judea for the purpose of the census. 
Registering for the Census
A mosaic of the magi traveling to Jerusalem and going before Herod.  
The Magi
A resurrection fresco in the paracclesion shows Christ who has broken down the gates of hell. He is pulling Adam and Eve out of their tombs. John the Baptist, David and Solomon stand behind Adam.  
Resurrected Christ with Adam and Eve.
Also in the paracclesion, the Church Fathers Basil, Gregory the Theologian and Cyril of Alexandria in liturgical dress. 
Church Fathers Basil, Gregory and Cyril of Alexandria.
Painted dome
Some other mosaics.

And finally, some interesting and beautiful marble. These marble panels are on the walls

and this beautiful multi-colored marble is on the floor. 

1 comment:

  1. I especially love the mosaic of Jesus that is above a doorway in the narthex. He has such lovely long, tapered fingers and an interesting face. The idea of the resurrected Christ pulling Adam and Eve out of their tombs in hell is also a very intriguing one.