Updated August 2015
By Cacinda Maloney
The sights and sounds that are Istanbul are so difficult to explain, I tried to show you this thru my streets of Istanbul photograph post. At first, I was so overwhelmed with the mass difference between the USA and Turkey, that I had a hard time describing my emotions and thoughts about Istanbul. It has taken me awhile to get my thoughts and emotions into words. Of course, when you visit, there are the basic things you must see, and of course, I will write about them. But the one thing that struck me more than any other place I visited was the Chora Church.
O, my God! Literally! Maybe it is because I am Christian and I was in a Muslim world and everything was so starkly different that what I am used to. But I have to tell you, as a Christian, there was no other place that was more mesmerizing than this place.
Just the taxi ride from our hotel on the Bosphorus to the Church made my mind wander and my fingers click the camera every other second, as there was a great shot on every corner.
Sometimes, I felt like I could take that ride over and over again and never really describe the neighborhood up the mountain to the church.
Upon arrival, I was almost questioning as to whether or not this was really the place, as it didn’t seem like something special or spectacular could be up at the top of the neighborhood hill.
Nothing could have been further from the truth. It was the highlight of the trip for me, a place I recommend and a place not to miss on your trip to the indescribable Istanbul.
My First Peak Inside
Of course, I enjoyed the vendors of traditional ceramics and Turkish souvenirs before the entry, but the outside looked like a normal, everyday church that could have been anywhere, with its dirty red brick and mortar.
I was stunned upon entry, as this is no ordinary church.
I was utterly speechless. Mosaics and frescoes beyond anything you could dream about were covering the walls and the ceilings. The domed ceilings had mosaic pictures of God, Christ and his family, the disciples and people of the Old Testament.
The first dome I came across had the 12 disciples of Christ laid out in this pattern that was stunning with windows within the dome. Speechless, there really were no words to express the feelings I have for this place. I stood silent and in awe, as if time stood still and tried to imagine the men who built this place so many years ago. The original church on this site was built in the early 5th century, and stood outside of the 4th century walls of Constantinople.
I think looking at our past helps us to predict our future.
Inside the domed areas where the mosaics had come off the ceilings or walls, there were the under pieces of carved-out, old, red brick, with sharp edges. It was as if the caretakers of this place went to great care when the pieces of the mosaics had gotten destroyed or detached from the past.
Do not give up your opportunity to see this place, for me, it is THE reason to go to Istanbul. Of course, there is the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, which are both extraordinarily amazing, but make sure you add this place to your list as well. It is not in the main area of Istanbul, where all the tourist are, so you will get a break from the crowds.
According to Wiki, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful surviving examples of a Byzantine (later Roman Empire) church and I would define it as that as well.
Other posts on Istanbul: