In the northwest part of the historical center of Constantinople and in a small distance from the Byzantine gate of Edirne, Chora Monastery is located. Its name comes from the use of the word “chora” (the lands/dwelling place) in the mosaic of Christ as “Chora of the Living” and in the mosaic of Panagia as “Chora of the Uncontainable” in the interior of the church.
From the old monastic complex, only the katholikon remains till today. Furthermore, we are not sure about its dedication to Christ or Panagia, or even to both of them.
Equally doubtful remains the foundation time of the monastery, since not only the years of Justinian I (527-565) have been suggested, but also the years of Heraclius (610-641). However, there is certainty that during the 12th century a grand church is being built, while in the beginning of the 14th century it is widely renovated. This was the extended renovation program, funded by the logothetes tou genikou, Theodore Metochites, who associated his name to the monument, thus sealing the greatest period in all of its history. The construction of the double narthex and the south chapel, which were decorated with mosaics and frescoes respectively, is attributed to Metochites. These works comprise the greatest expression of the Palaiologan art during the artistically rich reign of Andronicus II (1282-1328) and they are still admired by all.
On the day of the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the monastery was one of the first religious monuments to undergo the plunder. Later, at the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century, Chora was transformed into a mosque named Kariye.
The restoration of the monument, the reveal but also the cleaning of the mosaics was made in two periods, the first one in the beginning and the second in the mid-20th century.
Chora Monastery operates from 1948 as a museum named Kariye Müzesi.