Kariye Museum (Chora Monastery), one of the famous historical buildings in Istanbul and situated in Edirnekapı quarter, is shown by art historians as a monument of the late Byzantine era. Miray Can Kırkoçoğlu, the curator, answered our questions about the museum which attracts rather European tourists.
The name Kariye means Outside the City
Kırkoçoğlu said Kariye was built as the Chora Monastery / Church and it dates back to the 6th century. Kırkoçoğlu stated that the name Kariye was derived from "Chora" meaning "outside the city" in Greek, and "Karye" in Arabic, and added that the church took its current form in 14th century as a result of outstanding repair and maintenance efforts funded by the Theodoros Metochites, a statesman and a man of art.
Last Year 100,073 Tourists visited the Church
Kariye was continued to be used as a church after the conquest of Istanbul until 1511, when during the reign of Sultan Beyazid II, the Grand Vizier, Hadım Ali Paşa, added a pulpit, a mihrab, and a minaret, and converted it into a mosque, says Kırkçoğlu, and adds that the structures around Kariye do not exist today.
In 1948, Kariye was opened as a museum associated with Ayasofya Museum of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Kariye Museum, a world-famous monument, has great importance in terms of art history with its stunning frescoes and mosaics. Featuring some of the most beautiful examples of the 14th century late Byzantine art, Kariye Museum hosted 100,073 visitors in 2018.