Thursday, August 10, 2017


Edirnekapı, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'51.7"N 28°56'20.5"E / 41.031026, 28.939025

Chora Museum photo chora_museum165.jpg



Dormition of the Virgin (koimesis)
In the scene of Dormition of the Virgin (koimesis) above the western entrance of the Naos, the Virgin lies on a sarcophagus covered with clothes and is surrounded by a crowd consisting of apostles, prominent church members and women from Jerusalem. Christ is in a mandorla, his hands are covered as an expression of respect, and he holds an infant representing the soul of the Virgin.

The Christ in the mandorla (area of light) is surrounded by angels, and outside of the mandorla, on top of it, the six-winged angel Seraph is pulling the mandorla upwards with open wings and thus providing movement to the scene. In the background, next to the architectural structure are probably two angels who are waiting to take the soul of the Virgin on the lap of Christ and bring it to the Heaven.

Near the head of the Virgin, Peter is swinging the incense burner he is holding, and Paul, who is close the feet of the Virgin, is bending towards her and he is looking sadly. The inscription above the scene reads, “Death of Mother of God”.

Virgin Hodegetria (She who shows the Way)
This scene, which is in a marble frame on the southern templon panel of the bema, is called the Virgin Hodegetria (She who shows the Way) and it depicts Virgin Mary holding the Child Christ. Virgin Mary is standing on a terrace, her head is slightly tilted to Child Christ on her arms, and she is looking thoughtful.

Above the scene is a marble panel decorated with acanthus, at the center of it is a damaged relief of Christ Pantocrator, and at the upper corners are two reliefs of winged angels with damaged faces. The icon identical with this scene was attributed to Saint Luke, it was supposed to be the patron of Constantinople, it was assumed to be painted by looking at Virgin Mary herself, and it was carried along the city walls during war times to protect the city.

Jesus Christ
On the northern templon panel is a frontal depiction of Jesus Christ who is standing and holding an open Bible in his left hand. The text on the Bible reads, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”(Matthew 11:28). Most of the tiles of this mosaic panel have been lost. The reliefs of angel figures and rosettes on the surfaces of marble brackets placed at the two lower corners of the panel have seriously deteriorated.


Christ Pantocrator
The first mosaic confronting visitors at the entrance is located in the lunette over the door of the inner narthex. In this depiction, the left hand of Christ is holding the Holy Scripture, and his right hand is giving a sign of blessing. This scene is depicting the supremacy and divinity of Christ, who appears as the “Lord of the Universe”. The inscription on either side of Christ’s head read “Jesus Christ, Dwelling-Place of the Living” and “Chora”.

This inscription unites a feature of Christ stated in the Bible and the name of the church. The artist, who worked on this scene with a fine style, even detailed the red color on the face of Christ, located the right ear higher, and thus added human values to the depiction. Whereas chosen persons are depicted only with a halo around their heads, there is always a cross in the halos of Jesus Christ.

Virgin Mary And Angels Praying
On the arch above the main entrance, Virgin Mary is depicted as the Virgin Blachernitissa. The Virgin at the center is praying with her hands raised (orans). The first example of this gesture of the Virgin belongs to an icon seen in the Palace of Blachernae.

Inside the medallion on the breast of the Virgin Mary, Child Christ is depicted. That symbolizes that the bosom of the Virgin Mary is larger than the universe. There are two angel depictions masterfully placed on the edges of the vault. The inscription around the Virgin Mary in the mosaic depiction reads, “Mother of God, Dwelling-Place of the Uncontainable” and “Chora”.

Dedication Mosaic Of The Founder
Above the external side of the entrance door of the main room is a scene where Theodore Metochites, who had completed the construction of the church and decorated its interior with mosaics and frescoes, is presenting the model of the church to the Enthroned Christ who is sitting. The inscription behind Theodore Metochites, the supervisor of the Public Treasury who has an interesting outlook with his robes of office kabbadion and skiadion and turban-shaped headwear, reads, “Theodore Metochites, founder, treasury officer”. On the other hand, the inscriptions on both sides of Christ read, “Jesus Christ, land of the living”.

Mosaic Depiction Of Saint Peter The Apostle
On the panel located to the left side of the doorway to the naos, Saint Peter, one of the first disciples of Christ, is depicted while holding a scroll in his left hand and the keys of the heaven in its other hand. His name is inscribed on both sides of his head.

Mosaic Depiction Of Saint Paul The Apostle
On the panel located to the right side of the doorway to the naos, the standing Saint Paul the Apostle from Tarsus is depicted in frontal view. He is holding the Holy Scripture in his left hand and giving the sign of blessing with the other one. His name is inscribed on both sides of his head. He came to Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero and beheaded because of his testimony for Jesus Christ.

Christ Chalkites And Virgin Mary Panel
The mosaic in the east lunette wall at the southern wing of the inner narthex depicts Chora’s scene of Deesis. Here, Virgin Mary, Mother of God, is depicted while standing on the right side of Jesus Christ and sadly praying for the redemption of people’s sins. This scene owes its name to its resembling the scene on the “Chalke Gate”, the bronze gate that was the main entrance to the Great Palace. Princess Isaac Komnenos next to the skirt of the Virgin Mary and Princes Maria Palaiologina wearing nun’s robes on the right side are depicted while praying on bended knees.

Probably, this mosaic panel should belong to persons who served the church and funded its renovation in the 12th and 14th centuries. Maria, the daughter of Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos, was sent to Karakorum in 1265 as a spouse for the Mongol ruler Hulagu Khan, but Hulagu Khan died before her arrival in Karakorum, and she was married to his son, Abaqa Khan. Because of this marriage, she is called Maria of the Mongols. After becoming a nun, she took the monastic name Melania.

Since Princess Maria became a bride of the Mongols and Isaac Komnenos had his burial place prepared in Kosmosoteria, Thrace, neither of them could be buried in the Chora.


Ancestors Of Christ
On the dome over the southern section of the inner narthex is a depiction of Christ Pantocrator inside a medallion. Between the ribs of the dome are two rows of figures belonging to the ancestors of Christ. The upper row consists of the depictions of 24 ancestors starting with Adam and including Seth, Noah, Cainan, Mahalalel, Jared, Lamech, Shem, Eber, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Peleg, Reu, Methuselah, Enoch, Enos and Abel. The lower row consists of the figures of Jacob’s 12 sons, Judah’s 2 sons, and Pharez’s 1 son.

Ancestors Of Virgin Mary
On the surface of the dome over the northern section of the inner narthex is a depiction of Virgin Mary and Child Christ inside a medallion. The monograms on both sides of Virgin Mary’s head mean “Mother of God”. The medallion at the central part is surrounded by 16 sections. These sections contain two rows of depictions of sixteen kings of Judah who are the descendants of King David, ancestor of the Virgin Mary. The 16 king-prophets in the upper row are David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah, Jeconiah and Shealtiel.

The lower raw contain the figures of Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael, Daniel, Joshua, Moses, Aaron, Hur, Samuel, Job and Melchizedek.

Mosaics Depicting The Life Of Virgin Mary
Rejection of Joachim’s Offerings:In the northwest pendentive of the northern dome, Zechariah, who is sitting on a four-columned throne, is rejecting the offerings of Joachim, who has no children, by raising his two hands. This family, which wants to have a child, is continuously praying, and they have pledged themselves to give their child, if they are given one, to the temple to be raised as a religious person.

Withdrawal of Joachim to the Mountains Because of Childlessness:In the northeast pendentive of the northern dome is the scene of Joachim’s withdrawal to the mountains. The rejection of his offerings to the temple has broken the heart of Joachim, and he prayed forty days and forty nights in the mountains. Gabriel the Archangel appeared to him and declared that his prayers were answered. Although they were old, God was to give them a daughter.

Here, Joachim is depicted as a thoughtful and sad person in the bushes. There are two shepherd figures above right. The inscription on the upper part of the scene reads, “Joachim is praying with the shepherds on the mountain”.

The Annunciation of Mary’s Birth to Anne (Annunciation Scene):In the first arch on the eastern wall of the northern section, an angel (Gabriel) is announcing to Anne that she will bear a child. Anne is looking at the angel before here while praying with two open hands in front of a spectacular house, and the servant sitting in the niche of the house behind Anne is looking at Anne, and witnessing the event. On the right side is a pool in front of trees depicted. The inscription on the upper section of the scene reads, “Saint Anne is praying in the garden”.

Meeting of Joachim and Anne:Below the arch in the northern section, Anne and Joachim’s embracing each other and happiness upon Anne’s informing Joachim about the annunciation of her going to bear a child is depicted. The inscription on the upper section of the depiction reads, “Becoming pregnant to Theotokos (Mother of God)”.

Birth of the Virgin Mary:In the scene located east of the second arch in the northern section, Anna, who has given birth, is on a bed and she is surrounded by many servants. While preparations for the first bath of Mary are made, the newborn Mary is depicted in the arms of a woman. A little servant below left is preparing the cradle of Mary, another is cooling Anna using a fan, and persons close to her are putting their gifts on the table. Joachim is watching these happenings at the door. The inscription on the upper section of the depiction reads, “Birth of Theotokos (Mother of God)”.


Mosaics Depicting The Life Of Jesus Christ
Joseph’s Dream and Journey to Bethlehem:Three different scenes are depicted in the lunette on the north wall of the outer narthex. On the left side of the scene, Virgin Mary is together with Elizabeth. Mary says, “you are the dear subject of God, and the baby in your womb has been blessed” (John the Baptist was going to be born). On the lower left corner of the scene, Joseph has thoughtfully fallen asleep after recognizing that Virgin Mary was pregnant.

An angel approaching Joseph says that he should not leave her, that Virgin Mary was made pregnant by the Holy Spirit, that she was going to give birth to a son who would save people from their sins, and that he was going give him the name Jesus. Here, the monograms above the head of Virgin Mary mean “Mother of God”.

In the depiction on the right side, Joseph is seen in the back in a mountainous area, Virgin Mary is seen on top of a mule in the middle, and the son of Joseph is in the front. The background includes the depiction of the city. The inscription on the upper part of the scene reads “and Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David”, and the one on the lower part reads, “And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his dream, and said, Joseph, you the son of David, do not be afraid of accepting Mary as a spouse, for the one who has been born by her is the Holy Spirit”.

Enrollment for Taxation before the Governor:In the depiction on the east lunette of the northern section, the census conducted upon the order of Emperor Augustus for collecting taxes in all Roman provinces. Since everyone had to register in the city where he/she was born, Joseph, a descendant of David, and his family went to Bethlehem for the census. Quirinius, the governor of Syria and Palestine is sitting on the throne, and there is a military guard next to him. In front of the governor, a Roman soldier who is in charge during the query and holding a sword, and a scribe who is recording, are enrolling the pregnant Virgin Mary.

When the father of the child was asked, Virgin Mary remained silent, but Joseph behind her answered immediately and accepted him as a son by declaring himself his father. Behind him, his three sons are seen. The inscription reads, “... because he belonged to the house and line of David... he went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child”. The monogram above the head of Virgin Mary means “Mother of God”.

Birth of Christ:On the eastern arch in the central section is the scene of the birth of Christ. During their return from Bethlehem, where they had been for the census, since there was no room for them in the inn and since Mary was suffering childbirth pains, she was obliged to give birth to her baby in a cave. In the scene, Virgin Mary is resting on a blanket in lying position, and the child Christ wrapped in clothes is warmed by a donkey and a bull that breathe upon him, under light beam coming from the sky. There is a group of angels behind Virgin Mary on the right side, and a messenger angel, who is addressing shepherds, on the left side.

In the scene on the lower part of the mosaic panel about preparations for the bath of the child Jesus, a woman is preparing the first bath water of Jesus, while another woman is holding Jesus in her arms. Joseph, who is sitting next to them, seems to be astonished. The inscriptions read, “Birth of Christ” and “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people”.

Three Astrologers from the East before King Herod:There is a two-part depiction on the first eastern lunette of the south wing of the outer narthex. On the left side, the three Magi (Balthasar, Caspar, Melchior) on horseback who follow the star of Bethlehem come to Jerusalem and say, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage”. These words are heard by King Herod and he asks chief priests and scribes for information about this issue. When he learns that the newborn is in Bethlehem, he calls the three Magi, says that he would pay him homage and asks them to find the prophet.

The three Magi find the newborn Jesus, and become the first ones who pay him homage. Since they recognize the bad intention of King Herod, they return to their homes without informing him about the location of Jesus. King Herod realizes that he had been outwitted, and he gives orders to his soldiers to kill all the boys in Bethlehem who are two years old and under. In the scene, King Herod, who is sitting on a throne before an architectural structure, is holding a staff in one of his hands and extending his other hand towards the Magi.

There is a guard behind the king, and three Magi standing before him. The astrologer on the left side with a long beard is holding a chest, which contains a gift to be presented to Jesus Christ.  The chest contains moral symbols that are going to be presented to a god for the first time, namely myrrh, incense and gold. The inscription on the scene reads, “Magi from the east came and asked, where is the one who has been born king of the Jews”.

Return of Three Astrologer Kings to their Countries:In the scene between the two arches in the east leading from the outer narthex to the parecclesion the return of the astrologer kings to their country after presenting their gifts is depicted. This scene is only partially preserved, showing a rider on a rearing horse.

Inquiry of Herod:The depiction on the second east lunette of the southern wing of the outer narthex is partially destroyed. Here, only the depictions of King Herod and the guard behind him are seen. King Herod, who was informed by the three Magi about the birth of the new king, learns from his chief priests and scribes that this event was to occur in Bethlehem. Behind him, a guard is waiting. The inscription on the scene reads, “When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born”.

Flight into Egypt:The mosaics in the inner part of the outer narthex extending towards the parecclesion have not completely survived. On the lunette on the south wall of this section, Joseph, who saw in his dream that Herod was going to harm Christ, takes the holy family to Egypt. The inscription here reads, “Flight into Egypt”.

Ordering of the Massacre:In the scene on the south lunette in the southern wing of the outer narthex, since the Magi from the east returned to their country after finding the baby Christ and presenting him their gifts, King Herod orders the killing of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under. On the left side is King Herod who is sitting on a throne, two guards behind him, and three soldiers before him, and on the right side, children are killed by the soldiers.

One of the mothers is not able to look at her child who was disemboweled, and another one is trying to hide her child. The inscription on the mosaic scene reads, “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under”.

Mothers Mourning:In the mosaic depiction, which has not completely survived, on the west arch of the second section of the southern wing of the outer narthex, mothers whose children were killed mourn together their dead children. The inscription reads, “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning”.

Flight of Elizabeth and John from the Massacre:In the scene on the west arch of the first section of the southern wing of the outer narthex, Saint Elizabeth takes shelter in a cave in a mountain together with her son John the Baptist, and a soldier on the left side is pursuing them with a drawn sword. Elizabeth and her son miraculously escaped the massacre, thanks to a rock closing the entrance to the cave. The inscription on the mosaic scene reads, “Flight of Elizabeth”.

Return of the Holy Family from Egypt to Nazareth:In the scene on the arches above the windows on the western walls of the outer narthex, the Holy Family, which had went to Egypt fleeing from the massacre of King Herod, returns to Nazareth. On the left side, an angel approaching the sleeping John says that King Herod had died, his son Archelaus had replaced him, and they could return. In the other scene, John is carrying Child Christ on his shoulders in the front, Virgin Mary is behind them, and the son of John pulling a loaded donkey is behind her.

The city of Nazareth is seen on the far right of the scene. The inscription reads, “Having been warned by God in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth”. The monogram above the head of Virgin Mary reads “Mother of God”, and the one above the head of Christ reads “Jesus Christ”.

Christ taken to Jerusalem for the Passover:In the scene on the last arch on the western wall of the outer narthex, the holy family is every year traditionally going to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover in order to fulfill their religious duties. In this scene, Jesus was twelve years old and when the family recognized during their return from Jerusalem that he was missing, John and Virgin Mary returns to Jerusalem and look for him for three days.

They find him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. In the scene, Virgin Mary is at the back, the two sons of John and Christ in front of her, and John in the forefront. The city of Jerusalem is depicted on the right side of John.

This scene is interesting as the last scene in the Chora where the young Christ is without a beard. The inscription on the scene reads, “And every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover”.

Inside the medallions on the arch, some saints such as Anempodistus, Elpidephoros, Aphthonios, Akindynos and Pegasios are depicted. Since these mosaic panels were made by different artists, some of them are not of great artistic value. The monogram seen above the head of Virgin Mary means “Mother of God” and the one above Christ’s head means “Jesus Christ”.

Mosaics Depicting the Youth of Christ:Most of the mosaics on the east vault of the northern wing of the outer narthex have not survived. As understood from the existing remains, scenes depicting Jesus’ childhood and youth should have been here. In the surviving depiction, the young Jesus is at the temple, among the doctors.

John the Baptist- Christ and Devil:On the middle section of the first vault in the north is a decorative medallion. The scenes are surrounding the medallion. The baptism of Jesus is depicted on the northern part of the vault. At the shore of the Jordan River, John the Baptist is introducing Jesus standing before him to the crowd behind himself. Here, there are two apostles next to Jesus. John the Baptist, who was born shortly before Jesus, is calling people to turn back to God and to be baptized in the Jordan River so that their sins would be forgiven.

When asked, “are you the Messiah”, John replied, “I am not the Messiah, but I have been charged before him (Jesus). I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire”. Jesus accepts the invitation and comes to the Jordan River. Despite the insistence of John who wanted to be baptized by Jesus, Jesus himself becomes baptized. At this moment, the Holy Spirit comes down from the heaven in the form of a dove and settles on the head of Jesus.

At this moment, a voice from the heaven is heard: “This is the beloved son of God...” With this event, Jesus was for the first time introduced to the people as a Messiah. The killing of the snake by the bird in the river symbolizes humans’ purification from sin. The inscription on the scene reads, “This is the one I told you would come! He is greater than I am, because he was alive before I was born”, and the monograms read, “Saint John, harbinger” and “Jesus Christ”.

After his baptism, devil tries to tempt Jesus. After fasting forty days and forty nights, Jesus confronts the efforts of devil aimed at tempting him. In this scene, devil is depicted as a black and ugly creature with wings. Inscriptions on the figures narrate the events.

In the first scene, devil extends a stone towards Jesus who feels hungry, and says, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread”. Jesus answers: “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word of God.” The inscription above reads, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread”, and the one below reads, “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word of God”.

In the second scene here, devil wants Jesus to worship him, and he leads him to the roof of the temple and orders him to throw himself. Jesus refuses devil again, by saying that the angels to be sent by God would safely bring him down. Here, the lower inscription reads, “then devil lead him to the holy city”, the one below reads, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here” and the one above reads, “Get away, Satan”.

In the third scene, devil takes Jesus to the highest hill to show him all the kingdoms of the world, and says, “if you worship me, it will all be yours”. Jesus again refuses devil, answers, “Get away, Satan! The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve” and passes this examination of devil as well successfully. The inscriptions here read, “All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me” and “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test”. In those scenes, monograms of “Jesus Christ” are seen next to the aureola of Jesus.

Mosaics Depicting The Miracles Of Christ
Miracles at the Wedding in Cana:The mosaic depiction in the middle of the vault above the main entrance has not completely survived. Only a part of the banquet at the wedding is visible. In the other preserved mosaics, the first miracles of Jesus are depicted. The sacrifice of a bull and the filling of water into the jars are seen in those in the north, and the empty and filled baskets of bread are seen in those in the south.

Augmentation of Wine:In this scene about the transformation of water into wine, the first miracle of Jesus before people, Jesus, his mother Virgin Mary and the apostles go to a wedding at Cana in Galilee. Mary hears that the host run out of wine, and say Jesus that they have no more wine. Jesus requests the servants at the wedding to fill the six water jars in the house with water, and then to pour his glass of wine into the jars filled with water. Then, he requests them to draw some of the water that had been transformed into wine and to take it to the governor who was present at the wedding.

When the governor drinks the glass full of wine, he says the bride and groom that this was the best wine at the wedding, and asks why they did save this wine, instead of offering it. He requests the servants to distribute everyone at the wedding this wine. After this miraculous event, everyone at the wedding believes in Jesus Christ. In the scene, one of the servants is pouring water into one of the jars, a servant on the right side is approaching with an amphora he is carrying on his shoulder, the governor is holding the wine glass, and there are Virgin Mary and two of the apostles next to Jesus.

Augmentation of Breads:In this scene on the southeast part of the vault where empty baskets of bread are seen, Jesus requests two persons to give the breads they brought to him. As he knows that other people have no food, he breaks these breads, gives them to those next to him, and requests everyone to do the same.

Augmentation of Breads: In the scene on the southeast pendentive of the vault, the filling of the twelve baskets of bread and the feeding of five thousand people is depicted.

Miracles of Jesus Christ, leper (Outer narthex):On the first vault where the whole scene is destroyed, Jesus is depicted walking on the water, and the foot of a leper is seen in the east part of the vault.

Paralytic at Capernaum (Outer narthex):Most of the mosaics on the first vault in the south have not survived. In this section, there is a decorative medallion in the middle, and south of it, Jesus’ healing a paralytic lying on a mat at Capernaum is depicted. When Jesus returned to Capernaum for the Sabbath, people heard that he was staying at Saint Peter the Apostle’s house, and they rushed into this place.

However, a paralytic who was unable to walk alone was brought by four persons on a mat carried by four men. In the scene, the four men are seen next to the head of the paralytic, and Saint Peter and others next to Jesus. The inscriptions on the scene reads, “Jesus in the pool of sheep is raising the paralytic with his words”, and, “Your sins are forgiven”. Next to this scene is a mosaic depiction that has not survived as a whole and the inscription on it reads, “Jesus heals the dropsical man”.

In the scene on the northeast pendentive of the same vault, Jesus sees the faith of a paralytic who is praying, and says that his sins were forgiven. However, as he feels that some priests were thinking that sins could only be forgiven by God, Jesus requests the paralytic to get up and to go to his own taking his mat. When the paralytic stood up and took his mat, everyone was amazed and gave praise to God.

Samaritan Woman (Outer narthex):On the northwest corner of the vault, Jesus and a Samaritan woman are seen at a well. (While Jesus was sitting next to a well alone, since the apostles had gone to buy food, a Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water.) When Jesus asked for a drink, the woman said him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water”.

“Sir”, the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”  Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life”. When the woman said, “I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us”, Jesus declared that he was the Messiah. The inscription on this scene reads, “Jesus Talks with a Samaritan Woman”.

Christ Healing a Blind and Dumb (Inner narthex):On the southeast pendentive of the dome, Saint Peter the Apostle is standing next to Jesus. Jesus is depicted healing the blind and dumb standing before him. The inscription here reads, “Christ healing a blind and dumb man”.

Christ Healing Two Blind Men (Inner narthex):On the northwest pendentive of the dome, Saint Peter the Apostle is standing next to Jesus. In the scene, Jesus is healing two blind men sitting under trees. The inscription reads, “Christ healing two blind men”.

Healing Peter’s Mother-in-Law (Inner narthex):In the scene on the northeast pendentive of the dome, Jesus is healing Peter the Apostle’s mother-in-law, who is lying on a bed. Peter the Apostle is seen before Jesus, and the other apostles behind him. The inscription here reads, “Christ healing Peter’s mother-in-law”.

Woman with the Issue of Blood (Inner narthex):In the scene on the southeast pendentive of the dome, the woman who is bleeding for many years is healed when she touches Christ’s cloak. They are in an open field, and architectural structures and a group of believers are seen around them. The inscription reads, “Christ healing the woman with the issue of blood”.

Healing the Young Man with a Withered Arm (Inner narthex): In the depiction on the east side of the arch, a patient with a withered arm extends his arm toward Jesus and asks for healing. When Jesus enters into the synagogue, he saw a men whose right hand was withered, and he addressed the crowd in the synagogue. When Jesus asked the congregation whether it was permitted to do good or bad, to save or destroy life on the Sabbath, they all remained silent. Then, Jesus asked the man with a withered right hand to extend his arm, and healed him. The inscription on the scene reads, “Christ healing the patient with a withered arm”.

Healing a Leper (Inner narthex):The mosaic depiction on the west side of the arch is partially destroyed. Here, a leper is asking Jesus for healing. When the patient asked Jesus to heal him, Jesus healed the patient with leprosy by touching him. The leper stands in front of an architectural structure, he wears only a laincloth and a part of his body is uncovered, and the spots indicate that he is a leper. The upper parts of the body of Jesus and the bodies of the apostles behind him have not survived. The inscription on the scene reads, “Christ healing the leper”.

Christ Calling Zacchaeus:Zacchaeus, who had been earning money by taking bribes, climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see Jesus better. Jesus, who noticed Zacchaeus despite the crowd called him and forgave his sins. On the other hand, Zacchaeus gave half of his possessions to the poor, and served the religion.

Christ Healing the Handicapped (Inner narthex):In the scene on the west lunette of the southern section of the inner narthex, Jesus is depicted on the left side with three apostles next to him, and there are a group of men, women and children, some of which are sitting, before Jesus. Here, Jesus is healing a large group. One of the inscriptions reads, “Christ healing a multitude”, whereas the rest of the inscription beginning with the expression “Christ healing...” cannot be read.

The second niche on the western wall, northern axis, is a tomb niche (A).Above the sarcophagus lid level is a fresco painting of persons buried here. There is a figure on the left side sitting on an armchair, and two figures standing in front of it. Probably, this tomb niche should belong to a noble family from the court buried here. The upper part of the fresco has been destroyed.

The first niche on the western wall, southern axis, is a tomb niche (B).Above the sarcophagus lid level are the partially preserved fresco paintings of persons buried here. The scene contains three figures depicted standing side by side. The figures are wearing long court costumes (kaftan) and the costumes of those on the right and left side are decorated with Palaiologan monograms. The one in the middle is thought to be a child. The upper part of the fresco has been destroyed.

The second niche on the western wall, southern axis, is a tomb niche (C).Above the sarcophagus lid level are the partially preserved fresco paintings of persons buried here. The lower part of the fresco has been preserved whereas the upper part of it has been destroyed. The scene contains three figures wearing court costumes depicted standing side by side. The dress of the figure in the middle is decorated with Palaiologan monograms. This tomb belongs to Irene Raoulaina Palaiologina, a member of the dynasty.

On the side walls of the tomb niche are full-length figures of a woman and a man in religious costumes on the right and left sides respectively. On the arch of the niche, in the middle, inside a mandorla, is a depiction of Blachernitissa. The medallion on the left side of this depiction contains the bust of Saint Cosmas of Maiuma, a writer of hymns (hymnographer), the medallion on the right side contains the bust of Saint John of Damascus, and the papers in their hands contain words about death.


The lunettes and window arches of the outer narthex contain depictions of saints inside round medallions. Additionally, there are depictions of full-length saints on the four main arches, and on the eastern section of the northern arch, the young saint Andronicus is depicted standing, wearing ceremonial clothes and holding a cross. This saint had been tortured during the reign of the Roman Empire Diocletian (284-305 AD), and he was canonized. The inscription here reads, “Andronicus of Cilicia”.

On the western part of the arch, Saint Tarachus, a middle-aged soldier who had come from Cilicia, is depicted standing, wearing ceremonial clothes and holding a cross. This saint as well had been tortured during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD), and he was canonized. The inscription here reads, “Tarachus of Cilicia”.

The figure on the east side of the second arch east of the entrance probably belongs to George of Cappadocia, and the one on the west side of it to an unidentified saint. Saint George was born in the late 3rd century, he was tortured during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD) when his Christianity was discovered, and he was executed.

The figure on the east side of the first arch south of the entrance probably belongs to Demetrius of Thessaloniki, and the one on the west side of it to an unidentified saint. The Roman Emperor Maximian (235-238) sentenced Demetrius, whom he saw among Christians when he came to Thessaloniki, to death. Thus, the saints on the arches are depicted looking at the faces of each other.

The saint figures on the east and west sides of the second arch south of the entrance could not be identified.

Hodegetriais depicted in the first northern panel among the panels on the east wall of the outer narthex, Anne with child Mary in her arms in the second panel, and Joachim is depicted in the first panel on the west wall. Probably John the Baptist is depicted in the first panel on the east wall in the south, and there is no figure in the second panel.


WEB SITE : Kariye Museum Administration / Chora Museum Administration

Phone : +90 212 631 9241
Fax : +90 212 512 5474
E-Mail :

These scripts and photographs are registered under © Copyright 2017, respected writers and photographers from the internet. All Rights Reserved.


Edirnekapı, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'51.7"N 28°56'20.5"E / 41.031026, 28.939025

Chora Museum photo chora_museum177.jpg


The building that is located in the Edirnekapı neighborhood of İstanbul and called the "Chora Museum" (Kariye Müzesi) is a church building that constitutes the center of the Chora Monastery, which was a great building complex in the Eastern Roman Empire period, and it was dedicated to Jesus Christ. Since it stood outside of the city walls built by Constantine, the building was called "Chora", which means "in the country" or "outside of the city" in Greek.

Although the exact construction date of the building is unknown, according to the description of Symeon the Metaphrast, an author and saint who lived in the late 10th century, the region where the Chora monastery was located began to gain importance as a holy cemetery (necropolis) when the relics of Saint Babylas, who had been martyred in the early periods of Christianity, in 298, together with his 84 disciples, in Nicomedia (İznik), were buried here in the early 4th century.

The Chora monastery was rebuilt in the 6th century, in 536, by the Emperor Justinian (527-565) on the cemetery that was considered holy, on a chapel that had been ruined. On the other hand, according to the unproven claim on the page 229 of the calendar of Byzantine feasts written by Manuel Gedeon, the construction of the monastery had been initiated by Theodoros, the uncle of Justinian’s wife Theodora, in the 6th century, but it had been devastated by an earthquake that occurred on October 6, 557, and the emperor had built a larger monastery on the site of the former one.

Afterwards, the monastery was used as a burial area for prominent persons. When the Patriarch Germanus who died in 740 was buried here, the monastery appeared for the first time in written sources, and its degree of holiness increased, when Theophanes, Metropolitan of Nicaea, who died in the 9th century, also was buried here.

The building was destructed in the Iconoclastic period (711-843) and it was reconstructed in different periods. According to archaeological studies carried out between 1947 and 1958, there were five different construction periods here, and those periods witnessed in the 11th, 12th and 14th centuries should have been the periods of large-scale constructions or restorations.

The only surviving element originating from the earliest period of the building that lasted until the 9th century is the substructure on the east side. This substructure, which originates from the 5th or 6th centuries as indicated by its masonry, had not been built as a crypt, but it was used later as a burial place, as indicated by the tombs uncovered. At the end of the Iconoclastic period, after the Council of Nicaea in 843, Michael of Synkellos, who was appointed the high priest of the monastery, rebuilt the monastery completely by organizing a large construction campaign.

The remains of this structure built in the 9th century can only be seen today at the eastern end of the church. The tomb covered by a barrel vault beneath the naos covering dates from this period.

During the Comneni period (1081-1185), since the Great Palace was abandoned and the religious ceremonies were held in the Chora Monastery Church that was close to the new imperial residence at the Palace of Blachernae, the church gained in importance. In the last quarter of the 11th century, Maria Doukaina, the mother-in-law of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1081-1118), built a new church upon the ruins of the Chora Monastery. The remains of this building can be seen at the lover parts of the naos walls, under the marble coverings. Since almost no part of its superstructure has survived, the exact form of the building is unknown.

Isaac Komnenos, the younger son of Alexios I, rebuilt a large part of the monastery in 1120. The former three apses were replaced by a single and large apse, the relatively small dome supported by four columns was enlarged and supported by four corner pillars, the arches were narrowed, and thus, a more monumental interior space was created.

There is almost no information about the Chora Monastery during the Latin occupation between 1204 and 1261, but considering the large-scale construction of Metochites, the monastery seems to have been devastated during the Latin occupation. It is known that the huge earthquake of 1296 devastated the monastery. Patriarch Athanasius I, who resided in the Chora Monastery in the early 14th century, mentions the very bad condition of the monastery.

During the reign of Andronikos II (1282-1328), although the empire experienced economic difficulties in general, there was also a community of wealthy aristocrats, which supported artistic and scientific activities. In this period, Theodore Metochites almost reconstructed the Chora Monastery and established a very large and rich library inside the monastery. For the Byzantine aristocracy, building or repairing a religious institution was considered as a source of prestige in this world, and as a very important investment for the afterlife, before God.

Theodore Metochites was the son of an aristocratic family, born in 1270 in Constantinople. His father served as Michael VIII Palaiologos’ ambassador at the Papacy. After the dethronement of Michael VIII in 1283, the Metochites family was exiled. During their period of exile, Theodore Metochites studied the Hellenistic trivium and quadrivium, and he was additionally trained in ancient philosophy and theology.

In 1290, he was accepted to the court of Emperor Andronicus II, and he became a senator and the Logothetes, the Byzantine official responsible for the treasury, who was the highest official after the Emperor. He even established relationship with the imperial family by making her daughter marry Ioannes Palaiologos, the nephew of the Emperor.

In 1316, he was appointed by the Emperor as "ktetor" (donor) for the restoration of the Chora Monastery that was under the protection and directorship of the court. When the restoration of the monastery was completed in 1321, he was granted the title of Grand Logothete; i.e., the most important title granted by the court.

This was stated via the gilded inscription on a green surface on the dyed capitals of the two marble frames of the large window in the southern typhanon of the naos. The inscription on one side of the left capital reads "ktetor", the inscription on the other side of this capital reads "Theodore", the inscription on one side of the other capital reads “logothetes”, and the inscription on the other side of this capital reads “Metochites”.

Metochites was proud of the monastery he had built and of the large library he had established inside this monastery in particular. Although there is no definite archaeological evidence about the building of this library, both the poems of Metochites and the letters he sent to the priests of the monastery from exile indicate that there had been such a library inside the monastery. The library of the Chora Monastery is referred as one of the most important libraries of the Constantinople of the Palaiologan period.

The renovations undertaken by Metochites were comprehensive. The main dome of the church, the two-storied structure (annex) added to the north, the inner and outer narthexes and the chapel (parecclesion) added to the south, and additionally the marble covering plates and mosaics of the naos, the mosaic decorations of the narthexes and the frescoes of the additional chapel were built by Metochites.

Metochites, who was a senior bureaucrat, wanted his reputation to survive after his death. His choice of rebuilding the Chora Monastery and furnishing its library indicates that as a good Christian, he was worrying about the afterlife as well. The rich library was both to transfer his reputation in this world to the next generations and to make him appreciated by God thanks to his great good work.

Metochites was a good Christian, but not a sectarian. He carefully avoided conflicts with the church. He did not prefer to discuss religious issues, and confined himself to being faithful.

When Emperor Andronikos II was dethroned in 1328, Theodore Metochites was forced into exile in Didymoteicho, Thrace, by the new emperor, lived two years in exile, and he described his painful experiences and exile years in his poems that had very complicated literary plots. When he was allowed to return to Constantinople with the help of his son-in-law in 1330, he went to the Chora Monastery and became a priest using his rights as the ktetor of the monastery. He died in 1332 in the Chora Monastery and buried in the grave niche in the parecclesion south to the church.

Metochites was not only successful in the areas of literature and politics, but also in developing architectural solutions for the Chora Monastery Church, in decorating the monastery with brilliant and harmonious mosaics and frescoes, and in organizing religious depictions in a chronological order and iconographically. In this respect, he might be considered as the pioneers of a new art movement in the Byzantine Empire, which was the contemporary of the Renaissance movement initiated by Giotto (1266-1337) in Italy.

Another feature distinguishing the Chora Church from the other churches of this period is the depiction of the scenes from the life of Virgin Mary in chronological order by using the Apocryphal Gospels, although these scenes are not included in the four Canonical Gospels. Metochites added a mystical meaning to the name of the church, ordered the mosaic on the entrance gate that is depicted as “Chora (uterus, in the Latin language), the container of the uncountable, the place where Jesus Christ fit into the uterus, where he incarnated”, dedicated the church to Virgin Mary, and explained this in one of his poems as well.

In 1453, when Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror (1451-1481) conquered İstanbul, the church suffered no damage. After serving as a church for any years, it was converted into a mosque during the reign of Sultan Bayezid II, by the Grand Vizier Hadım (Eunuch) Ali Pasha (Atik Ali Pasha), and a madrasah (school) was added next to it. In the Turkish period, the monasteries except this church were ruined and disappeared in the course of time.

Besides the reconstruction of the demolished dome and the repair of some damages caused by earthquakes, the windows of the outer narthex were covered largely and a mihrab was added to the naos. The sarcophagi in the tomb arcosolia were removed. According to the descriptions of travelers who visited this building, while it was serving as a mosque, the mosaics of the building were covered with removable wooden shutters. In the first half of the 18th century, a school and a soup kitchen were added to the building by Kızlarağası (Chief of the Girls) Hacı Beşir Pasha (d. 1746). However, these annexes have not survived.

The Chora Mosque was converted into a mosque upon the decision of the Council of Ministers dated 29/08/1945. This monumental museum, which is called the Chora (Kariye) Museum today, is a quite attractive Eastern Roman building with both its architecture and its mosaics and frescoes.


WEB SITE : Kariye Museum Administration / Chora Museum Administration

Phone : +90 212 631 9241
Fax : +90 212 512 5474
E-Mail :

These scripts and photographs are registered under © Copyright 2017, respected writers and photographers from the internet. All Rights Reserved.


Edirnekapı, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'51.7"N 28°56'20.5"E / 41.031026, 28.939025

Chora Museum photo chora_museum118.jpg


The Chora consists of five main architectural units, namely the naos, the two-storied structure (annex) added to the north, the inner and the outer narthexes and the chapel for tombs (parecclesion) to the south.

The main structure of the existing church is a building on an athropied Greek cross plan covered by a dome. The dome is a ciborium-shaped high frame supported by four columns. 16 long windows provide lots of daylight to the interior. On each side of the bema, the eastern extension of the naos, were domed chambers called pastophoria. The chamber to the north (prothesis) directly opens to the bema, whereas the chamber to the south (diaconicon) had opened to the bema, but after the renovations in the 14th century, it was covered with marble and opened to the parecclesion.

South to the naos is a passageway linking the naos to the parecclesion. The additional building (annex) adjacent to the north side of the naos is two-storied, and most probably, the lower story was housing the treasury (Skeuophylakion) and the upper story the library of Metochites. The units south and north to the inner narthex located west of the naos are covered with domes, whereas other units are covered with vaults. The section in the southwest of the outer narthex, where the bell tower was located earlier, houses the minaret today.

The main room of the church (naos) has a size of 10.5 m x 15 m. The apse is supported with an outer semi-circular flying buttress constructed in the Palaiologan period. The main room’s floor and walls are covered with marble. Inside the apse is the mihrab made in the Ottoman period. Stained glass pieces discovered during archaeological excavations at the apse section resemble those in the Monastery Church of Christ Pantocrator, and this is quite important because it indicates that the art of stained glass had been developed earlier in the Byzantine Empire than it had been done in Europe. The walls of the naos are decorated with valuable marble plates up to the cornice level, the narthexes are entirely decorated with mosaics, and the Parecclesion is decorated with frescoes.

The parecclesion adjacent to the south side of the naos was entirely built in the 14th century. This structure, which was built by Metochites as his own tomb chapel, included the tombs of Metochites, the founder of the monastery, and some people close to him. This elongated rectangular and single-nave structure has a size of 15.96 m x 4.96 m. The parecclesion is separated from the outer narthex by two columns that have capitals decorated with winged angels, crosses and acanthus leaves, and constitutes a whole independent from the narthex in terms of both architecture and function.

As indicated by the four arcosolia for tombs in the parecclesion, this section was built upon a basement, which was used as a crypt and cistern as well, as a tomb chapel. The depictions in the 29 m long parecclesion were made as frescoes. The bema and apse section to the east is covered with a domical vault. There are four arcosolia for tombs in the parecclesion, two on the northern wall and the other two on the northern wall. An arched passage close to the bema arch of the northern wall leads to the chamber of diaconicon.

On the east side of this rectangular structure, which has a size of 4.33 m x 3.21 m, is a small, semicircular protruding apse. The central part of the parecclesion is covered with a dome. This dome is 4.7 m in diameter and 11.18 m in inner height. The dome structure with 12 ribs (dodecagonal) is supported by a relatively high trimmer and has 12 windows. The space, which had been formed because of the construction of the parecclesion in the 14th century, between the parecclesion and the naos, was utilized by adding two chambers on either sides of the hole connecting the naos and the parecclesion.

There are no frescoes or mosaics in these two chambers, which could have been utilized as storage rooms for liturgical articles or as small chapels (oratorium). Those chambers are thought to have been used to store materials such as candles, candelabras, incenses, icons and containers used during religious and memorial services carried out in the chapel.

There are totally eight tomb arcosolia in Chora; four in the parecclesion, one in the north wall of the inner narthex, and three in the west wall of the outer narthex. Those tombs belong to aristocratic families. Additionally, beneath the apse decoration of the parecclesion is another tomb dating from a later period.

Round arches, niches, stone walls with brick dog tooth eaves, and half-piers covering the facade of the building have provided a vivid outlook to the structure.

Important Renovations
After the appointment of Metochites in 1316 by the emperor as the "ktetor" (donor) to restore the Chora Monastery under the protection and direction of the palace, the restoration of the monastery was completed in 1321. The main dome of the church, the two-story additional building (Annex) adjacent to the north side, the inner and outer narthexes and the additional chapel to the south (parecclesion), furthermore the marble plates and mosaics of the naos, the mosaic decoration of narthexes and the frescoes of the additional chapel had almost their present-day appearances.

After these renovations undertaken in the 14th century, the chamber in the south (diaconicon), that had been opening into the bema, was closed with marble and began to open into the Parecclesion. After the earthquake of 1766, the main dome of the church that had collapsed was renovated by the architect İsmail Halife. During this renovation, the original 14th-century dome was replaced by a wooden dome covered with plaster.

In the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz, between 1875 and 1876, the mosaics were cleaned and uncovered by the Greek architect P. Kuppas and some changes were applied to the facade of the building. The fillings made by pouring stone chips between domes in order to cover the narthex with lead had adverse effects on the appearance of the building and increased the weight of the structure. In 1898, Sultan Abdülhamid II had the building, which had been damaged and the minaret of which had been destroyed by the earthquake of 1894, restored.

During the partial restoration undertaken in 1929, the Koimesis mosaic in the naos was cleaned and uncovered. During this restoration, some of the additions in the interior made during the Turkish period were removed and the minbar, which has reached the present day, was sent to the Zeyrek Mosque (Church of Christ Pantocrator). After 1948, the building was attached to the Administration of Museums.

Between 1947 and 1958, a comprehensive cleaning and restoration program was implemented under the leadership of Thomas Whittemore by the "Byzantine Institute of America" and the "Dumbarton Oaks Research Institute". The frescoes and mosaics displaying the characteristic features of the 14th century were uncovered and the building obtained its current appearance.

Marble Decorations
The word “marble”, which is known as “Marmaron” in Greek, was named after the Marmara Island (Prokonnessos) that was famous for its rich marble deposits. These white marbles with gray grains were extensively used for the decoration of the Chora. In addition to the marbles from the Marmara Island, porphyritic, ancient green, onyx, red, yellow and pink grained marbles brought from different places such as the North Africa, the island of Euboea (Eğriboz) and the Afyon province produced a rich outlook.

Marble blocks of the same sets were cut and mounted side by side in order to form patterns, rich symmetrical figures and motifs resembling wood grains. Although the marble works in Chora are as rich and striking as those in the Hagia Sophia are, they do not attract the attention of visitors that much, because of the rich mosaics and fascinating fresco pictures. Especially the naos and the wall coverings in the narthexes of Chora contain marble. Marble patterns in opus sectile were used in coverings and additionally in the friezes under the cornices on the naos walls.

Attentive observers are able to see the fine marble works in the frames of the tomb niches, in the marble intarsia cornices, in the yellow and dark colored reliefs on the capitals of the columns, and on the first door on the north side of the entrance to the naos.

The marble door in the north axis of the naos has lost its embossments like the door of heaven and hell in the southern gallery of the Hagia Sophia. It is an imitation of the bronze and wood doors of the 6th century, and one of the few surviving examples of its kind. The embossed yellow painted figures of pigeons, which drink water from bowls, on the upper frieze of the lintel on the main entrance door of the naos are of high-quality workmanship. On the frames on the two tombs in the parecclesion, the background is blue and the embossed sections are yellow.

The walls of the parecclesion are decorated with imitation marble frescoes. The omphalion in the south axis of the naos floor schematically resembles the omphalion in the Hagia Sophia. This section was supposedly used during ceremonies.

Mosaics And Frescos
Mosaics and frescoes were widely used decoration techniques of the Byzantine religious painting. In Chora as well, we are able to see those two decoration techniques together. The outer and inner narthexes are decorated with magnificent sequential scenes that could be considered among masterworks of mosaics, narrating mainly the life and miracles of Jesus Christ, and the life of Virgin Mary, respectively. On the other hand, in the parecclesion, religious stories from the Old Testament and scenes such as the judgment day, resurrection and last judgment are depicted in frescoes.

The mosaic art found by Egyptians was at first used as a flooring decoration. In the Hellenistic period, this art was developed by the introduction of glass mosaics. That kind of mosaic was called "psifidoton" in the Byzantine period. In the Early Christian period, the mosaics were created by laying small triangular, quadratic, cubic etc. pieces called "tesserae" and made of stones, glasses and seashells of various colors and almost flesh-colored tile pieces covered with gold and silver leafs on a wet, quick-drying plaster together.

This art, which was widely implemented in the 6th century for wall decoration, entered a period of stagnation in the 10th century, because of its complexity and since it was costlier than frescoes. However, in the 14th century, in the late Byzantine period, it revived, as seen in the Chora. That phenomenon is also an indicator of the extent of the socio-economic development of the Byzantine Empire after the Latin occupation (1261).

A very good example of the substitution of the art of fresco painting the mosaics in the Byzantine painting art since the later technique was expensive and difficult to implement, can be seen in the parecclesion of the Chora. In the period of Metochites, after the completion of the mosaic decorations in the naos and narthexes of the Chora, the decoration of the parecclesion was initiated, but here, mosaics were used nowhere with the exception of tomb niches, and all decorations were frescoes. Obviously, during the last phases of the renovation, the economic situation should have been worsened.

The fresco technique consists of painting in pigment dissolved in water by squeezing on wet plaster via a brush with stiff and long bristles. Thus, the pigments are absorbed by the wet plaster and the colors stay bright for a very long time. Thanks to both the painting technique implemented and the high-quality materials chosen for the parecclesion section of Chora, the brightness of the colors of the paintings have been preserved until today. The cliffs, trees, clothes stretched between buildings, and architectural elements aiming at providing depth to the paintings were implemented very successfully, and they have added three-dimensionality to the paintings.

After the conversion of the church into a mosque, all inscriptions, Christian symbols, all frescoes, and mosaic decorations were covered by a thin layer of dye and lime without destroying them. Thus, they have been able to survive without suffering any damage until today.


WEB SITE : Kariye Museum Administration / Chora Museum Administration

Phone : +90 212 631 9241
Fax : +90 212 512 5474
E-Mail :

These scripts and photographs are registered under © Copyright 2017, respected writers and photographers from the internet. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Edirnekapı, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'51.7"N 28°56'20.5"E / 41.031026, 28.939025

Chora Museum photo chora_museum128.jpg


The word Kariye is the Turkish version of ancient Greek word Khora which means country (rural area). It is known that there had been a chapel outside the ramparts before the ramparts were built in 5th century. The first Khora Church instead of this chapel had been built by Justinianos (527-565).

The church had been used as the court chapel for important religious ceremonies in Komnenos period, since it was close to Palace of Blachernae.

Toward the end of the 11th century, the church had been re-built by Maria Daukaina who was the mother-in-law of Emperor Alexius I. It had been destroyed during Latin invasion (1204-1261) and had been repaired by Theodore Metochites, the treasury minister of the court, during the period of Andronikus I (1282-1328). An annex to the north, an exonarthex to west, and a chapel (Parecclesion) to the south had been appended to the church in this period.

The mosaics and frescos in Kariye are the best examples of the late East-Roman (14th century) painting art. The depths of these mosaics and frescos as well as mobility of figures and administration of plastic values are pretty successful. Kariye had been utilized as a church after the conquest of İstanbul in 1453; it had been transformed into a mosque in 1511 by Vizier Hadım Ali Pasha. It has been transformed into a museum in 1945 and its mosaics and frescos had been revealed by American Byzantine Institute between 1948 and 1958.

The mosaics and frescos in Kariye are the best examples of the late East-Roman (14th century) painting art. The depths of these mosaics and frescos as well as mobility of figures and administration of plastic values are pretty successful. Kariye had been utilized as a church after the conquest of İstanbul in 1453; it had been transformed into a mosque in 1511 by Vizier Hadım Ali Pasha. It has been transformed into a museum in 1945 and its mosaics and frescos had been revealed by American Byzantine Institute between 1948 and 1958.

Kariye is located at Edirnekapı section of İstanbul. The dictionary meaning of Kariye (Chora) is "outside of the city", or "rural" in old Greek. The existence of a chapel outside the city walls in very old is mentioned in some sources. The first Khora Church was built on the site of this chapel by Justinianus. The building which managed to survive until the times of the Commenos with various additions and repairs, gained importance when the Imperial Palace Blakhernia near the city walls was expanded. At the end of 11th century Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law of Emperor Alexi I had it rebuild.

The Chora Church (Turkish Kariye Müzesi, Kariye Camii, or Kariye Kilisesi - the Chora Museum, Mosque or Church) is considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of a Byzantine church. The church is situated in the western, Edirnekapı district of Istanbul. In the 16th century, the church was converted into a mosque by the Ottoman rulers, and it became a secularised museum in 1948. The interior of the building is covered with fine mosaics and frescoes.

The church has a kiborion shaped space whose dome is carried by four arches. During the Latin occupation of 1204 - 1261, both the monastry and the church became extremely run down. During the reign of Andronikos (1282 - 1326), one of the prominent names of the day, the writer, poet and the minister of treasury Theodore Methocite had the monastry and the church repaired towards 1313, and had an annex to the north of the building, an outer narthex to the west and a chapel (Parekklesion) to the south. These new additions were decorated with frescoes and mosaics.

Parekklesion, which is a long single naved chappel going along the southern facade, is built above a basement floor. It is partially covered with a dome and the remaining sections are covered by vaults. It has a single abscissa. The outer narthex which runs along the full western facade forms the present facade. The northern wing is only an insignifcant corridor. The central dome has a high drum. It is a Turkish period restoration and is made of wood. Outer facades are given plasticity and movement with round arches, half braces, niches and rows of stone and brick. The eastern facade is finished with abscissa extending to the exterior. The middle abscissa is supported with a half arched brace.

The building was used as a church after the conquest of İstanbul but was converted into a mosque in 1511 by the Visier Grand Hadım Ali Pasha, who later added a school and a alm kitchen next to it. After the conversion, the mosaics and frescoes were covered, sometimes by wooden blinds and sometimes by whitewashing over them. All the mozaics and frescoes were uncovered with the work carried out by the American Institute of Byzantine Research between 1948 - 1958.

Chora mosaics and frescoes are the most beutiful examples of the last period of Byzantine art (14th century). They show a striking similarity. The monotonous background of the former period cannot be seen here. The concept of depth, recognition of the placticity and movement of the figures and the elongation in the figures are the characteristic of this style. Scenes from life of Jesus are given on the outer narthex while the inner narthex has scenes from the life of Madonna.

On the portal of the door joining the outer to the inner narthex, there is Christ the "Pantocrator". On the left the scenes depict the birth of Jesus, population cencus being carried out under the supervision of Governor Cyrinus, the angle telling Joseph to leave taking Mary with him, the multiplication of loaves of bread, water turning to wine and on the right side scenes such as messanger kings informing about the birth of Christ, healing of the stroke victims and the massacre of children.

The most beautiful mosaic on the inside is Deisis. There is Jesus in the center with Mary on the left, below Mary, Isaac Commenus and a nun on the right of Jesus. This woman is the daughter of the Mikhael Palaiologos VIII. She was married to the Mongolian Prince Abaka Khan and following her husnband's death returned to İstanbul and became a member of a religious order. In this section, under the dome there is Jesus and his ancestors are shown in the segments. On the portal of the church proper, there is Christ in the middle and on the left Theodoros Metochites who has restored the church and adorned it with the mosaics presenting a model of the church.

The life story of Mary, which is not included in the Bible is taken from subjects based on the Apostles. At the inner narthex the scenes about Mary can be followed depicting her birth, her first steps, Gabriel telling her that she shall have a child, Mary buying wool for the tebernacle and others. Mosaic above the inner portal of the entrance to the main church depicts the death of the Virgin, Madonna bearing the child Jesus and a Saint. Parekklesion is totally decorated with frescoes. The Anastasia (rebirth) scene seen on the abscissa is a masterpiece. The last judgement above it is shown here in full. It is known that the niche on the right and left sides of the parekklesion are graves. On the dome of the Parekklesion there is Marry and the child Jesus and 12 in the segments.

The Chora Church was originally built outside the walls of Constantinople, to the south of the Golden Horn. The church's full name was the Church of the Holy Saviour in the Country. The last part of that name, Chora, referring to its location originally outside of the walls, became the shortened name of the church. The original church on this site was built in the early 5th century, and stood outside of the 4th century walls of Constantine the Great. However, when Theodosius II built his formidable land walls in 413-414, the church became incorporated within the city's defences, but retained the name Chora. The name must have carried symbolic meaning, as the mosaics in the narthex describe Christ as the Land of the Living and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as the Container of the Uncontainable.

The majority of the fabric of the current building dates from 1077-1081, when Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law of Alexius I Comnenus, rebuilt the Chora Church as an inscribed cross or quincunx: a popular architectural style of the time. Early in the 12th century, the church suffered a partial collapse, perhaps due to an earthquake. The church was rebuilt by Isaac Comnenus, Alexius's third son. However, it was only after the third phase of building, two centuries after, that the church as it stands today was completed. The powerful Byzantine statesman Theodore Metochites endowed the church with much of its fine mosaics and frescos.

Theodore's impressive decoration of the interior was carried out between 1315 and 1321. The mosaic-work is the finest example of the Palaeologian Renaissance. The artists remain unknown. In 1328, Theodore was sent into exile by the usurper Andronicus III Palaeologus. However, he was allowed to return to the city two years later, and lived out the last two years of his life as a monk in his Chora Church.

During the last siege of Constantinople in 1453, the Icon of the Theotokos Hodegetria, considered the protector of the City, was brought to Chora in order to assist the defenders against the assault of the Ottomans. Around fifty years after the fall of the city to the Ottomans, Atik Ali Paşa, the Grand Vizier of Sultan Bayezid II, ordered the Chora Church to be converted into a mosque - Kariye Camii. Due to the prohibition against iconic images in Islam, the mosaics and frescoes were covered behind a layer of plaster. This and frequent earthquakes in the region have taken their toll on the artwork.

The Virgin and child, painted dome of the parecclesion of Chora Church.The Chora Church is not as large as some of the other Byzantine churches of Istanbul (it covers 742.5 m²), but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in the beauty of its interior. The building divides into three main areas: the entrance hall or narthex, the main body of the church or naos, and the side chapel or parecclesion. The building has six domes: two in the esonarthex, one in the parecclesion and three in the naos.

The main, west door of the Chora Church opens into the narthex. It divides north-south into the exonarthex and esonarthex.

Mosaic of the enrollment for taxation before ZyreniusThe exonarthex (or outer narthex) is the first part of the church that one enters. It is a transverse corridor, 4 m wide and 23 m long, which is partially open on its eastern length into the parallel esonarthex. The southern end of the exonarthex opens out through the esonarthex forming a western ante-chamber to the parecclesion.

The mosaics that decorate the exonarthex include: Joseph's dream and journey to Bethlehem; Enrollment for taxation; Nativity, birth of Christ; Journey of the Magi; Inquiry of King Herod; Flight into Egypt; Two frescoes of the massacres ordered by King Herod; Mothers mourning for their children; Flight of Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist; Joseph dreaming, return of the holy family from Egypt to Nazareth; Christ taken to Jerusalem for the Passover; John the Baptist bearing witness to Christ; Miracle; Three more Miracles; Jesus Christ; Virgin and Angels praying.

The esonarthex (or inner narthex) is similar to the exonarthex, running parallel to it. Like the exonarthex, the esonarthex is 4 m wide, but it is slightly shorter, 18 m long. Its central, eastern door opens into the naos, whilst another door, at the southern end of the esonarthex opens into the rectangular ante-chamber of the parecclesion. At its northern end, a door from the esonarthex leads into a broad west-east corridor that runs along the northern side of the naos and into the prothesis. The esonarthex has two domes. The smaller is above the entrance to the northern corridor; the larger is midway between the entrances into the naos and the pareclession.

Enthroned Christ with Theodore Metochites presenting a model of his church; Saint Peter; Saint Paul; Deesis, Christ and the Virgin Mary (without John the Baptist) with two donors below; Genealogy of Christ; Religious and noble ancestors of Christ.

The mosaics in the first three bays of the inner narthex give an account of the Life of the Virgin, and her parents. Some of them are as follows:
Rejection of Joachim's offerings; Annunciation of Saint Anne, the angel of the Lord announcing to Anne that her prayer for a child has been heard;
Meeting of Joachim and Anne; Birth of the Virgin Mary; First seven steps of the Virgin; The Virgin given affection by her parents; The Virgin blessed by the priests; Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple; The Virgin receiving bread from an Angel; The Virgin receiving the skein of purple wool, as the priests decided to have the attendant maidens weave a veil for the Temple; Zechariah praying, when it was the time to marry for the Virgin, High Priest Zechariah called all the widowers together and placed their rods on the altar, praying for a sign showing to whom she should be given; The Virgin entrusted to Joseph; Joseph taking the Virgin to his house; Annunciation to the Virgin at the well; Joseph leaving the Virgin, Joseph had to leave for six months on business and when he returned the Virgin was pregnant and he is suspicious of that.

Mosaic of the Koimesis in the NaosThe central doors of the esonarthex lead into the main body of the church, the naos. The largest dome in the church (7.7 m diameter) is above the centre of the naos. Two smaller domes flank the modest apse: the northern dome is over the prothesis, which is linked by short passage to the bema; the southern dome is over the diaconicon, which is reached via the parecclesion. Koimesis, the Dormition of the Virgin. Before ascending to Heaven, her last sleep. Jesus is holding an infant, symbol of Mary's soul; Jesus Christ; Theodokos, the Virgin Mary with child.

The Anastasis fresco in the parekklesion of the Chora Church.To the right of the esonarthex, doors open into the side chapel, or parecclesion. The parecclesion was used as a mortuary chapel for family burials and memorials. The second largest dome (4.5 m diameter) in the church graces the centre of the roof of the parecclesion. A small passageway links the parecclesion directly into the naos, and off this passage can be found a small oratory and a storeroom.

The parecclesion is covered in frescoes: Anastasis, the Resurrection. Christ, who had just broken down the gates of hell, is standing in the middle and pulling Adam and Eve out of their tombs. Behind Adam stand John the Baptist, David, and Solomon. Others are righteous kings; Second coming of Christ, the last judgment. Jesus is enthroned and on both sides the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist (this trio is also called the Deesis); Virgin and Child; Heavenly Court of Angels; Two panels of Moses.

In 1948, Thomas Whittemore and Paul A. Underwood, from the Byzantine Institute of America and the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, sponsored a programme of restoration. From that time on, the building ceased to be a functioning mosque. In 1958, it was opened to the public as a museum - Kariye Müzesi.


WEB SITE : Kariye Museum Administration / Chora Museum Administration

Phone : +90 212 631 9241
Fax : +90 212 512 5474
E-Mail :

These scripts and photographs are registered under © Copyright 2017, respected writers and photographers from the internet. All Rights Reserved.


Harbiye, Şişli - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°02'52.1"N 28°59'15.2"E / 41.047819, 28.987554

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Constituonal Period Hall
At display, there is the official car in which the Military Minister and Grand Vizier Mahmut Şevket Pasha, one of the important actors of the Second Constitutional Monarchy period was waylaid and martyred on June 11, 1913 when leaving the Ministry of Naval Affairs. Additionally, arms and items presented to the person of Sultan Abdülhamit II and uniforms, arms and equipment belonging to famous people of the period such as Hüseyin Avni Pasha Army Commander, Ghazi Ahmet Muhtar Pasha and Tevfik Sağlam are also displayed in this hall.

World War I Hall
In addition to examples such as various arms, banners, victory ribbons, medals and decorations used in the First World War Period, private apparel, uniforms and arms of people such as Enver Pasha who played important roles in the First World War are displayed. For detailed information on the First World War the touch-screen computer in this hall can be used.

Hall of the Battles of Dardanelles
In the Hall of the Battles of Dardanelles various findings collected from the battlefields and the uniform belonging to the Commander of the Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Hüseyin Avni Bey who was martyred in the Dardanelles Battle along with his whole regiment are displayed. Additionally, the helmets, accessories, equipage, flags, ensigns, arms, medal and decorations belonging to Turkish, English and ANZAK forces are displayed in this hall. The Diorama Hall where Battles of Dardanelles are portrayed by projection and by panoramic model is one of the absorbing sections of our museum.

War of Independence Hall
Private collections of Kâzım Karabekir, Ali Fuat Cebesoy, Refet Bele, Asım Gündüz, Şükrü Naili Gökberk, Ömer Halis Bıyıktay, Commanders of the War of Independence and items seized from the headquarters of Trikopis, captive Commander-in-Chief of the Greek Army are displayed.

The collection belonging to Demirci Mehmet Efe, one of the important militia of the War of Independence who launched the first resistance against Greeks in the Aegean and the model composition portraying Mustafa Kemal Atatürk issuing the command  "Armies, your first goal is the Mediterranean... Forward!" on the ridges of Eşme are worth seeing.

Korea And Cyprus Hall
This hall is dedicated to the Korean War (1950-1953) and the Cyprus Peace Operation (1974).  Uniforms belonging to Korea Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Tahsin Yazıcı, Regiment Commanders, Martyr Colonels Nuri Pamir and Celal Dora, starboards, medals and decorations are displayed in the Korean Section. Objects belonging to commanders taking part in the Cyprus Peace Operation and arms and uniforms acquired during the operation are exhibited in the Cyprus Section.

Etnography Hall
In this hall composed principally of silver, glass and porcelain items, non-military collections of the Military Museum are exhibited. The finesse of handcrafts can be observed with pleasure in these works such as fabrics, bibelots, accessories, sugar bowls, censers, cup sets, serving sets, serving trays, candelabra, clocks, and enam bowls that are a part of our daily lives.

Chiefs of General Staff Hall
This is a hall where uniforms, arms and some personal items belonging to all our Commanders of the Armed Forces who served since the founding of the Young Republic of Turkey and the plates and objects presented to them during their service are displayed.

Kenan Evren Hall
This hall was composed of the works presented to our museum by Kenan Evren (1982-1989), the 7th President of the Republic of Turkey. Items presented to Kenan Evren during both his term as the Army Commander and Commander of the Armed Forces and during his term as the President by domestic and foreign persons, organizations and statesmen are displayed in this hall.

Atatürk Hall
The Harbiye building, currently used as the Military Museum and Cultural Complex was built in 1841 in order to educate officers for the Ottoman Army. In this school which continued its function also after the founding of the Republic of Turkey many officers and commanders were educated for a period of nearly 100 years. Among these, the most important, beyond question, is the founder of the Republic of Turkey and the Great Statesman Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Thus,  Atatürk holds a very prominent place in the Military Museum. In this hall reserved for Atatürk; Atatürk's photographs, personal items, medals and decorations, objects presented to him and models of the 'Anıtkabir', his mausoleum, the Erzurum Congress Building, the Sivas Congress Building, the First Building of the Grand National Assembly, the Şişli Ataturk House and the house in Salonika where Atatürk was born are displayed.

Tents Gallery
The tent, which had an important place in the life of the Turkish Nations since the early period of history was also used during the Ottomans era and has developed throughout centuries maintaining its significance.The pole, or poles forming the backbone of the tent are made of wood and tent emblems symbolizing sovereignty are placed in the external sections.

The Ottomans made use of tents in wars; in the state administration units of the palace organization and in recreation and entertainment locations in daily life as well as for the needs of the judicial system and health requirements. The shape, size, material and decoration of tents varies by the social degrees of the owners.

Ottoman tents are grouped on the basis of their support systems. 'Sayebans' comprise a group as sunshades. The 'Otağı Humayun' , the Imperial Pavilion on the other hand, forms a separate and distinct group both in terms of its dimensions and decorations and in terms of its function. The finesse of the Ottoman adornment arts can be observed in the  'sayebans', single-pole tents, double-pole tents, tent sections, tent poles and finial ensigns displayed in the Military Museum 's  Tents Hall.

Selim III Stand (1789-1807)
The Selim III Stand exhibiting models of Selim III, among the Sultans of Ottoman and palace officials representing the then the apparel and accessories as real-like as possible is one of the lively stands of our museum.

"Armenian Problem with Documents" Hall
In the Documented Armenian Question Hall; the intent was to surface the truths behind the baseless Armenian claims by exhibiting the original documents and photographs related to the 'Tehcir' (Mandatory Relocation) Act which was passed in the year 1915 covering the war period.

Official reports related to the massacre the Armenians committed in Anatolia and the photographs of the innocent Turkish peoples, official correspondence evidencing the existence of Armenian citizens serving in the Ottoman Army even during the war, the Council of Minister's Decision related with the implementation of the Tehcir Act, the list showing the distribution of Armenian citizens by cities subjected to mandatory relocation and the bloody shirt of Grand Vizier Talat Pasha who was martyred in Berlin in the year 1921 are objects worth noting and considering.

Translations into Turkish and English of the original documents in Ottoman Turkish, displayed in the hall are also made available for the visitor on the on platforms in the same hall.

Firmans-Decrees And Manuscripts Hall
In the Firmans-Decrees And Manuscripts Hall, manuscripts, imperial orders and warrants from 15th to 20th centuries are exhibited.


WEB SITE : İstanbul Military Museum Command

Phone : +90 212 233 2720
Fax : +90 212 296 8618
E-Mail :

These scripts and photographs are registered under © Copyright 2017, respected writers and photographers from the internet. All Rights Reserved.


Harbiye, Şişli - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°02'52.1"N 28°59'15.2"E / 41.047819, 28.987554

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Introduction Hall
The Introduction Hall, which greets us at the main entrance of the museum, includes a model of the museum to make a general introduction to the museum, a souvenir section, publicity panels furnished with lights including photographic information about artifacts in the museum, publicity showcases in which collections of the museum are represented by an example from each one (such as rifle, sword, shield, horse forehead shield), the armoured Jannisary clothes and weapons exhibited in this showcase and a touch-screen information system providing the 3D images about the museum and the ‘Janissary Band’ displayed through a TV system.

"Foundation of Turkish Army" Hall
At the entrance of this hall which hosts examples from Central Asian Turkish Culture and history,  there is a panel showing the family tree of the Turks. The diorama depicting the event in which the Turks passed over the Great Wall of China dynamises atmosphere in the hall. The printed pictures of map showing the Turkish migration routes,  Sketch of Turan Tactics, decimal system army of Metehan, Gokturk and Uighur Alphabets, Maps of European Hun Turks as well as oil paintings depicting Tatung War, Atilla and his army, Central Asian Turkish Culture and Turkish Legends, Heroes and Heroines are exhibited.

Seljuks Hall
There are Malazgirt Pitched Battle panorama with maquette, oil paintings depicting Dandanakan Triumph, Miryokefalon Pitched Battle, leading thinkers in Anatolia, key governors from Turks and Seljuk State, known as the pivots in science, statue of Karamanoğlu Mehmet Bey, his edict on Turkish language and a large map showing the  borders of Seljukian Empire in the hall.        

Ottoman State Establishment Hall
In the hall where information is given on the foundation of the Ottoman state, which has shaken the world from the very beginning of its foundation, there is a digital map showing the areas conquered in different colours by the Sultans, panel of advice by Ertugrul Ghazi and Sheikh Edebali to Osman Bey, an oil painting displaying the foundation of the Beylicate by Osman Bey and his appointment as the ruler of the Beylicate, various paintings of Ottoman sultans and oil paintings depicting decisive victories of that period.

Great Turkish States Introduction Area
The busts of the founders of the great Turkish states in history, flags, maps and information of these states and a list of the other Turkish states established throughout history are exhibited in this section. A copy of the Orhun Inscriptions, a text of Turkish history carved on obelisks and the first passage in history written in Turkish where the names and marks of  the Oghuz clans are listed and the name “Turk” is mentioned for the first time can also be observed.

Sultan Mehmet II & Sultan Selim I Corner
This section with a panoramic model portraying the mannequins of Sultan Mehmet, the Conqueror (1451-1481) and Yavuz Sultan Selim (1512-1520) on horseback and Turkish forces launching their ships into the Golden Horn during the conquest of Constantinople is one of the interesting corners in our museum.

Cutting Weapons Hall

Cutting Weapons of the Islamic Period
The oldest among edged weapons of the Islamic Period exhibited in this section dates back to the late 12th Century. The most important group among the swords in the collection is comprised of the spoils of the Egyptian Campaign of Yavuz Sultan Selim acquired from the Memluk Treasury in Alexandria. The Turkish swords, stilettos, daggers and "yatagans"  (an edged weapon used by the Janissary and the mariners known generally as the infantry class in the Ottoman army called 'levends') forming a large part of the collection have its origins in various periods ranging from the 15th century to the 19th century.

'Yatagans', which are exhibited in chronological order from the 16th century onwards in this section, constitute a separate group. The 'cenbiyes” daggers of Arabic origin from the 19th century and daggers of Turkish and Caucasian origin are among the weapons displayed in this section.

Another important group in the edged weapons hall is comprised of the Turkish, Memluk and Iranian axes and 'tebers', (a crescent shaped war weapon sometimes with two edges, generally used by the private guards of the monarch's escort and dervishes. It is a symbol of the dervish). The Military Museum has a rich collection of 'alems' (a finial used at the top of the flagpole and starboard pole and carried as a symbol before the armies). These alems displayed at the entrance of the edged weapons hall are mostly of Memluk and Iranian origin.

European Cutting Weapons
The swords of the Middle Ages acquired by Islamic States in the period of the Crusades (1094-1270) bear the traces of two different cultures with Memluk epigraphs inscribed later on their cutting blades. Most of these weapons were maintained in the armory in Alexandria and various epigraphs dedicated to Memluk sultans and emirs were also inscribed on them by the Memluk.

A large part of these weapons were transferred from Alexandria to the armory in Istanbul after the conquest of Egypt (1517) by Yavuz Sultan Selim and some of them was taken first to France and then distributed to other European nations after Napoleon’s Cairo Campaign in 1798. Among the swords displayed in this section, the epees and foils, which are the most popular types in the 14th and the 17th centuries, are predominant.

Along with a couple of small stilettos with elegant forms, the 19th century and 20th century European swords, which are plainer with their nickel-plating bodies, stylized pommels and hand protectors, complement the collection. The second group in this section is the group of stake weapons developed by the poor in the Middle Ages for defense. Their origins were agricultural implements. Halberts, Fauchards and Partisans are included in this group.

"The Conquest of Istanbul" Hall
In the “Conquest of Istanbul Hall” of the Military Museum, which has been recently organized, there is a diorama depicting the conquest. In the diorama, Ulubatlı Hasan is portrayed as planting the Ottoman flag on the bastions. The running of the ships on land and the moment of fall of Constantinople are portrayed through 3D and audible techniques. In addition to the chain fastened to the estuary of the Golden Horn and panels, a short film on the conquest is presented to the visitors.

Defense Arms Hall

European Defense Arms
European helmets constitute the largest part of the European defense arms in the museum. European helmets, the oldest samples dating back to the 14th century, are grouped under the following headings: Basinet, Barbute and Salade. The general characteristic of this group is the fact that their faces are open.

The change brought by the Renaissance in the third quarter of the 15th century is also reflected in the shapes of helmets. The closed helmets with heaps replaced the open helmets. These helmets, encircling the head, had holes to allow seeing and breathing on the face guards. The most recognized types of helmet in this group are the Armet and Close Helmets.

Along with helmets, armors are exhibited in the European Defense Arms Hall. In addition to the open type helmets, the era of the chain-knitted armor jackets came to an end and coarse suits of armour being comprised of multi part steel constructions with limited possibility of action were started to be produced. On several European armor jackets displayed in this hall, the influences of Ottoman art are observed.

We see that the open type helmets reappeared again due to the proliferation of fire arms in battlefields in late 16th century. Well-known examples of these types of helmet are Morion and Cabassets. After early 19th century, European helmets gradually transformed into special military caps used with uniforms with accessories of leather, fabric, silver thread, stripes and sakındırak. The development of these caps can be observed in the military caps of French, Russian, Prussian and Austrian states exhibited in this section.

Islamic Defense Arms
Islamic defense arms consist of helmets, suits of armor (jackets, armbands, knee plates), shields and animal armor sets (neck, rump and horse frontal armor). In the Islamic defense arms hall, a rich collection from the Ottoman, Memluk, Iranian, Akkoyunlu, Shirvanshah and Timurlu periods covering a period from the 14th century to the late 18th century is displayed. Even though these works are very similar in terms of form, adornment characteristics and manufacturing techniques, slight differences between them in terms of their forms and adornment motifs may be seen from period to period.

The preferred material for defense arms is iron due to its endurance. However, only in Ottomans, there are many materials produced through gilding on copper such as helmets, shields and horse frontal armors after the 16th century. A sub-group of defense arms includes the materials that are produced to be used merely in ceremonies. Helmets produced by the appliqué of the plates made by embroidery openwork, which was a method started to be used In the 16th century, on dark red velvet fabric (zerrin conical caps) and shields produced by wrapping colored silk thread on willow branches are the most striking examples of this group.

Firearms Hall
In the Islamic Fire Arms Hall, in which examples of fire arms with matchlock, flintlock, caplock and pin mechanisms covering a period from the 16th century to early 20th century are displayed, the development of the fire arms mechanisms can be observed. In the hall, examples of rifle and pistol manufactured in various European countries and the United States of America during a period between the 16th century and the 20th century are displayed as well.

The examples in this hall, where flintlock and matchlock rifles and pistols are exhibited, manufactured in Anatolia with Istanbul as the center and in the regions outside Anatolia such as Caucasian, Azerbaijan, the Balkans, Egypt, Syria and Arabian regions are evaluated in a historical period spanning three centuries from the 16th century to the 20th century. In addition to the Ottoman arms technology, the wealth of adornment techniques and motifs can be observed on these arms.

Atatürk's Classroom
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, received his Military School and War Academy education in the Military Museum building. He entered the Military School in 1899 and graduated in 1902 as a lieutenant. Attending the Military Academy in 1903, he completed his education in 1905 as a staff captain. The classroom, in which Mustafa Kemal studied in the Military Academy, was organized in memory of him. In the classroom, photographs and documents reflecting Atatürk's school life are exhibited.

Cannon Models Hall
In this hall, where wooden and cast cannon models are displayed, the object, which attracts the attention first, is the large wooden cannon model called "Hatıra-i Celadet". Among the objects displayed in the hall are wooden models of Ottoman cannons cast in the period between the 15th century and the 20th century and models of some cannons of foreign origin and some equipment related to artillery.

Somalia-Bosnia-Kosovo & Internal Security Hall

Somalia Section
In the Somalia Section of the hall, the photographs of the Turkish Troop that was deployed to Somali in 1992 under a resolution of the United Nations, the photographs, the battle dress uniform of the Commander of the United Nations Peace Force (UNOSOM) Lieutenant General (General) Çevik Bir and the plates presented to him by the Chiefs of Defense Staff of the foreign states are exhibited.

Kosovo Section
In this section objects presented to the Military Museum by the Kosovo Turkish Unit are exhibited.

Bosnia Section
Turkish Troops, while fulfilling their military duty in Bosnia, also managed to build bridges of diplomacy, culture and understanding between Turkey and the international community. In the hall, objects of the Turkish Brigade that served within NATO Forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina Federation are displayed.

Internal Security Operations Section
In this section, the photographs of children who were brutally murdered by PKK the terrorist organization, the photographs of the 'Mehmetcik', the Turkish Soldier depicted on duty and in the operations in mountainous terrains and various arms, explosives and various items seized during operations are displayed.

Archery and Cavalry Hall
Ottoman arrows and bows, leather, wood, marble and iron targets, cases for arrows and knives (called tikresh, kubur, kandil, sadak), wrist protectors, rings worn on the finger while stretching the bow (called zihgir) are among the museum collection of archery belonging to XVI-XIX centuries. In this section we can also see various objects used in manufacturing arrows and bows. Decorations for archery showing the success of the Ottoman sultans such as Sultan Mustafa I, Mehmed IV and Selim III in archery are among the valuable pieces of the museum.

Artillery Gallery
In this hall, there are examples of Belgium, French, Swedish, English, German and Italian cannons and mortars selected from the collection of the Military Museum are displayed. These cannons, the production dates of which vary from time to time within the period between the 15th century and the 20th century, are either iron or bronze cast. These cannons constitute a significant part of the collection in terms of art and technology, with their emblems of the states they originate from, their plant and stylized animal decorations used through embossing technique and the epigraphs on them stating the master, the workshop and the person whom the cast was dedicated to.

Mehter Instruments Hall
It is the hall, in which the originals and copies of the instruments that have been used by the Janissary Squadron still serving in the Military Museum up to the present day are exhibited. The instruments displayed in this hall are the pipes, kettledrums, reed flutes, bells, drums, clarions etc. In addition, a kettledrum used in the Mohaç Pitched Battle (1526) in the reign of Sultan Süleyman, the Magnificent is exhibited.

Harbiye Hammam
Additionally, by a new regulation the Turkish Bath of Harbiye military School has been restored and opened for visits.

Uniforms Hall
Military costumes which did not present a great diversity until late XVIII century start to diversify as the result of  renovation movements from Selim III (1789-1807) onwards. By the Regulation of Military Apparel promulgated in 1909, uniforms consisting of khaki jackets and pants were adopted. The Turkish Army has entered the War of Independence in this apparel. In the Costumes Gallery, officers’ uniforms, privates’ uniforms, epaulettes used in the Ottoman era and a composition depicting the XVI c. armoured infantry and armoured raiders are present.

Flags and Standards Hall
In this hall starboards from the Ottoman State period, legion starboards from the Republican period and  flags of foreign nations are displayed.

The Gallery of Martyrs
This hall is dedicated to our martyrs who have sacrificed their lives while gaining great victories throughout the history. In this hall, where the “Memorial Wall” on which the names of major great wars since the beginning of Turkish history are inscribed and the artefacts consisting of personal belongings  of the martyrs of Dardanelles are displayed,  the motto “Peace at home, peace in the world”  of the Great Leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, translated to various languages is inscribed on the wall.

Naval Section
Artifacts such as late  XIX century shipping flags, submarine buoy, hurricane lamp, compass, submarine mine model and the first submarine model belonging to Turks are displayed in this section.


WEB SITE : İstanbul Military Museum Command

Phone : +90 212 233 2720
Fax : +90 212 296 8618
E-Mail :

These scripts and photographs are registered under © Copyright 2017, respected writers and photographers from the internet. All Rights Reserved.