Monday, August 21, 2017

HAGIA SOPHIA MUSEUM / INTERIOR

Sultanahmet, Fatih - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'28.0"N 28°58'44.6"E / 41.007789, 28.979059



PHOTOGRAPHS ALBUM

Hagia Sophia's Dome

The most important difference in Hagia Sophia’s architectural design is that its size and measurements are much larger than other churches, and the central dome is much bigger and higher. The dome that is over the central space is 55.60 m. from ground level, 31.87 m. from North to South and 30.87 m. from East to West. When constructing Hagia Sophia, architects have used marble, stone and special bricks that were light yet durable, specially made of Rhodes soil.

The dome that appeared compressed and spread out when it was first constructed, has been damaged in August 553 and December 557 due to earthquakes and in May 7, 558 the Eastern part of the dome has completely fallen apart. The renovation of the dome has been carried out by İsidoros’ nephew, young İsidoros. İsidoros has solved the problem by installing support systems through external braces and assisted the structure by adding forty windows and increasing the lenght of the dome by seven meters to make it smaller and lighter.

Hagia Sophia has survived a big fire in 859 and an earthquake in 869. The dome has collapsed after an earthquake in 989 and has been repaired. Due to the earthquakes in 1344 and 1346 a part of the dome and parts of the arch have collapsed and have been repaired.

The renovation process that has started by Fatih Sultan Mehmed during the Ottoman period has been continued by the following Sultans as well. The most important repair conducted in Hagia Sophia was by Sultan Abdulmecid’s (1839-1861) orders in 1847-1849 by the Swiss Fossati brothers. This repair included the filling of large cracks on the dome as well as securing the dome’s rim by implementing steel circles. During the renovations, one of the most important calligraphist’s of his time, Kazasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi has written the 35th verse of the quran on the main dome.

Calligraphic Panes of Hagia Sophia

Great Calligraphic Panes
The great rounded calligraphic panes on the walls of the main place had been written by Kazasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi who was one of the famous calligraphers during the repairs between 1847 and 1849 of Sultan Abdülmecid period (1839-1861). Rounded calligraphic panes with 7.5 meters of diameter are written by gilt on green background made of hemp. There are 8 of these panes containing the names of Allah, Muhammad, and the four caliphs, namely Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali as well as the grandsons of Muhammad, namely Hasan and Husayn. The wooden hangers of the panes are made of lime since it is light and durable. The calligraphic panes are the largest ones in the Islamic world.

Calligraphic Panes in Altar Section
There are calligraphic panes belonging to Ottoman Sultans on the right wall of the altar in Hagia Sophia.  The writers of these panes in top down order:

1st calligraphic pane, Sultan Mahmud II (1808-1839)
2nd calligraphic pane, Sultan Mahmud II (1808-1839)
3rd calligraphic pane, Sultan Ahmed III (1703-1730)
4th calligraphic pane, Sultan Mustafa II (1695-1703)
5th calligraphic pane, Sultan Mustafa II (1695-1703)

As for the left wall of the altar, there are panes written by the famous calligraphers of the day. The left one is written by Calligrapher Mehmed Esad Yesari (1797), while the right one is written by Calligrapher Veliyyüddin Efendi who was the chief religious official as well.

Ceramics of Hagia Sophia

Ceramics around the Altar
“Ayetü'l Kürsi “ the 255th verse of Bakara Sura is written by polished thuluth (celi sülüs) on the cobalt blue ceramic belt surrounding all along the wall behind the altar. A script of "Ketebehu El Fakir Muhammed 1016" is written in a red rosette with white contour at the end of ceramic belt.

There are ceramic panes in the narthexes at the left and right of the altar. There is ceramic panel on the left narthex with plant patterns belonging to Old Sultan’s Loge contains İznik ceramics dated to 16th century. There are two portrayals on the pane in the right narthex. One of them is the portrayal of Kaabe in eight pieces; the other one is demonstrating the Tomb of Muhammad. It has been understood that, Turkish ceramics art had been reached its peak point in 16th and 17th centuries.

Ceramic in the Library of Sultan Mahmud I
The ceramic used in the Library of Sultan Mahmud I are the best examples of İznik, Kütahya and Tekfur Workshops within 16th - 18th centuries. There is ceramic pane containing flower, rose, carnation, tulip and cypress in the corridor combining the reading room of the library to the place of which the books are stored (Hazine-i Kütüb). The sultan signature of Sultan Mahmud I figured on porphyry is located on the east wall of the library’s reading room. The scripture of “Kelime-Tevhid” (faith declaration) is written on the ceramic frieze of the signature, while the scriptures of “Besmele, Haşr Sura 22nd verse and the beginning of 23rd verse” and “The Beautiful Names of Allah Esma-Ül Hüsna” are written in white polished thuluth (celi sülüs) on indigo-blue background.

Ceramic in the Sultan Tombs
The inner part of the Tomb of Sultan Selim II is decorated with the most beautiful ceramics of the 16th century. “Bakara Sura” and "Ayetü'l Kürsi" is written in white polished thuluth (celi sülüs) on dark blue background on the ceramic belt entirely surrounding the tomb through the upper part of the lower window.

There are ceramic panes at both sides of the entrance door with purple, red, green, blue flower patterns on white background. The alcoves of the white background panes in rectangular frames are filled with red, green, and blue peonies, leafs, and flowers; the elliptic medallion with dark blue background in the middle is decorated with sprays. There are ceramic with cloud patterns on red background on the articles designed on the corners.

These panels are the most beautiful examples of 16th century ceramics, while the left one is the imitation of the original. It is known that, it had been taken away for restoration to France in 1895 by an ancient collector Albert Sorlin Dorigny, a dentist in Istanbul who was the dentist of Sultan Abdülhamit II as well, however an imitation was mounted in the place of the original which is now exhibited in “Arts of Islam” section of Louvre Museum with the inventory number of 3919/2-265.

The inner part of the Tomb of Sultan Murad III is decorated with 16th century İznik ceramics. The coral red ceramics here are significant with respect to being produced by only a single generation of İznik Ceramics Workshop in Ottoman era. The production secret had not been found afterwards. There is a scripture of “Mülk Sura 1-22nd Ayat” in polished thuluth (celi sülüs) calligraphy on blue background in the tomb. The surface beneath the ceramic belt is decorated with roses, tulips, hyacinths, gillyflowers, lily leafs and clouds in various colors.

There is an interesting ceramic pane in terms of color and composition outside the tomb which is creation of Architect Davud Agha. There is a rosette attracting attention mainly blue over a white background. Garnets, poniard leaves, and peony portrayals are completing this structure.

The inner part of the Tomb of Sultan Mehmet III is decorated with İznik ceramics dared to the beginning of the 17th century. There is scripture of “Besmele and Cum’a Sura” polished thuluth (celi sülüs) calligraphy on a blue background.

Altar
As one of the major elements of the traditional mosque architecture, altar is a recessed segment in mosques, prayer rooms, and outdoor prayer areas which is higher than surroundings and faced to the direction of Mecca that imam having community behind him stands in front of it during prayer. Ottoman Sultans made some repairs and additions to the altar in the southeast of the main place of the traditional Hagia Sophia Museum.

The altar of the Hagia Sophia renovated in the 19th century is a marble example having a polygonal alcove decorated with a decorative figure of the sun and stars covered by a half-domed mesh. Plenty of gilts are used in the altar encircled by a wide border decorated with acanthus leafs with convoluted branches and it has an imposing cap stone.

The candelabras are places at both sides of the altar brought from the court church of the Hungarian King Matthias I by the Grand Vizier İbrahim Pasha during the conquest of Buda by the Hungary run in the era of Suleiman the Magnificent.

Minbar
Minbar is a pulpit in the mosque where the imam (leader of prayer) stands to deliver sermons on Fridays. Minbar is at right hand side of the altar in Hagia Sophia and build in the period of Sultan Murad III. It is one of the best marble workmanship of 16th century Ottoman era.

Sultan’s Loge
Sultans’s Loge, also called as Imperial Loge, are special locations for Sultan’s prayers in mosques, since sultans perform Friday and Festival prayers as well as night payers in Holy nights in the Major mosque of the city.

There is no information regarding the location and creator of the first Sultan’s Loge in Hagia Sophia. Today’s Sultan’s Loge is at the left side of the altar and annexed to the structure by Fossati Brothers during the renovations performed between 1847 and 1849. Sultan’s Loge consists of a hexagonal section on a number of five columns and a corridor again on columns. Its lower part has a marble hemstitched banister panel, while the upper part is a gilded wooden cage. The ceiling of the loge is decorated with hand-drawn plant patterns.

Muezzin’s Loge
Muezzin’s Loge is the section in the same direction of Mecca which the Muezzin go up on it and prays during prayers and other worships. A large Muezzin’s Loge had been built at the east of the main place in Murat III period, however since the place is so large and the community is too crowded, four more Muezzin’s Loges had been appended in the structure. The Muezzin Loges are in harmony with the main structure and reflecting the best examples of the marble workmanship of 16th century Ottoman era.

Omphalion
Omphalion is the location where the coronation of every Emperor took place in East-Roman Era and a special section with a group of circular marble slabs with various colors and dimensions and decorations in opus sectile styles in junctures.

The Library of Mahmud I
One of the most significant annexes to the structure is the library built by Sultan Mahmud I between the two buttresses on the south of the structure. This section consists of the reading hall, the main place, Hazine-i Kütüb (place where the books are preserved) and the corridor and the stony ground combining these sections. It is separated from the main place by a bronze grid carries by 6 columns. The bronze grid is decorated with flowers and branch convolutions. There is scripture of “Ya Fettah” on the two-leafed door of the library and there are two door handles.

“Ya Fettah” is one of the 99 names of Allah and means “the one who opens the doors of goodness and livelihood and makes things easier”. It is frequently used on the handles of the doors in Ottoman Era. There is a porphyry signature of Sultan Mahmud I inlayed to marble on the east wall of the reading room.

The corridor combining the reading room and Hazine-i Kütüb (place where the books are preserved) is decorated with ceramics belonging to 18th century İznik, Kütahya and Tekfur workshops with flower, rose, gillyflower and cypress patterns. The wooden book cabinets in the library section are made of rose wood. The library where Sultan Mahmud I and the leading persons of the day donated books have approximately 5000 books which have been transferred to Süleymaniye Library and is preserved here under the name of “Hagia Sophia Special Collection”.

There are low, small, narrow and wooden tables decorated by mother-of-pearl inlay work technique which are used for reading and writing and a number of two Koran casings coated with mother-of-pearl and tusk.

Private Sections (Maksure)
Hagia Sophia had been utilized for not only religious purposes but also as an educational center. The community was lectured here for religious and scientific topics by the prominent ecclesiastics and scientists of the day out of prayer hours. There are private wooden sections in the structure for these purposes called as maksure. There are a total of 11 private sections (maksure) in Hagia Sophia.

Marble Cubes
Two pieces of cubes made of monolithic marbles at the lateral naves in the building belong to Hellenistic Period (BC 330-30) and had been brought from Bergama antique city. These cubes have been brought to Hagia Sophia in the period of Sultan Murad III (1574-1595) and can contain 1250 liters of liquid in average. They had been used for distributing juice to the public for holy nights and celebration prayers in the mosque period. The cubes have taps at their lower parts for consuming water in other days.

Wishing Column
There is a column with a hole in the middle covered by bronze plates at the northwest of the building which was also named as the perspiring column or the wishing column. In some references, it is indicated that this column had become blessed in due course among community. Rumors appeared in East-Roman period that it had a healing effect on humans. The legend has it that, Emperor Justinian wandering in the building with a severe headache leaned his head to this column and after a while he realized that the headache was gone.

This story had been heard among the public and the rumor regarding the healing effect of the column got around. Hence, people believed that they would get better if they put their fingers into that hole on the column and then rub them to the place where disease is felt. According to another legend, this wetness is described as the tear of Virgin Mary.

As for the Ottoman period, when the Hagia Sophia was transformed into a mosque, Fatih Sultan Mehmed and his retinue prostrated themselves for the first friday prayer by the imamate of Master Akşemseddin, however, they had no matter be able to start the prayer, since the direction of the building was not faced to Kaaba. There is a rumor that, Deus Ex Machina appeared just at that moment and tried to turn the building to face Kaaba, but he was witnessed by a citizen, so he had to disappear without being able to turn the mosque. As for today, people make their wishes by rotating their thumb a complete clockwise tour inside the hole.

Gravestone of Commandant Enrico Dandolo
In face of Mosaic of the Deesis, there is the gravestone of Commandant Enrico Dandolo the Doge of Venice who commanded the 4th crusade and died in Istanbul in 1205 when he was 70 years old. No foundlings regarding to grave have been encountered in researches.

Viking scripture in Hagia Sophia.
There is a scripture come down to Vikings on the marble banisters in the middle section of the south galleria. The scripture determined to belong to the 9th century contains a sentence meaning "Halvdan was here". The scripture is supposed to be made by a Viking mercenary in East-Roman period. A group of Vikings who was famous with their warrior nature had been participated to the imperial guard regiment in İstanbul which was mainly constituted by them which was called as "Varangian". This regiment built a reputation by fighting on behalf of the court in every region of the empire for approximately 200 years.

The Emperor Door
It is the largest door of Hagia Sophia dated to 6th century, which provides passing to the main structure from the inner narthex section. The Emperor door is 7 meters in length and made of oak and has a bronze frame. The leaves of the door are coated by bronze plates. The door had been used only by the Emperor and his retinue. East-Roman references says the door could be made of the woods of Noah's ark or the wood of the chest of which the Jewish holy plates kept in.

LOCATION SATELLITE MAP



WEB SITE : Hagia Sophia Museum Administration

MORE INFO & CONTACT
E-Mail : ayasofyamuzesi@kultur.gov.tr
Phone : +90 212 522 1750 / Tel: +90 212 522 0989
Fax : +90 212 512 5474

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

HAGIA SOPHIA MUSEUM / HISTORY

Sultanahmet, Fatih - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'28.0"N 28°58'44.6"E / 41.007789, 28.979059



PHOTOGRAPHS ALBUM

Hagia Sophia is the one of the most visited museums and most prominent monuments in the world in terms of art and the history of architecture. It has also been called "the eighth wonder of the world" by East Roman Philon as far back as the 6th century.

The current Hagia Sophia is the third construction, done in a different architectural style, even though it occupies the same location as the previous two. The original building was constructed by the most important architects of the period (527-565), Anthemios (Tralles) and Isidoros (Miletus), under the order of Emperor Justinianos. It is mentioned in the resources that during its construction period, the two prominent architects each had 100 architects working under them, who in turn had 100 workers each working under them.

The construction of the Hagia Sophia began on February 23, 532. It was completed before long, approximately within 5 years and 10 months. It was then opened to divine service with a great ceremony on December 27, 537. It was used as a church for 916 years but, following the conquest of Istanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmed, the Hagia Sophia was converted into mosque. Afterwards, it was used as a mosque for 482 years. Under the order of Atatürk and the decision of the Council of Ministers, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1935.

Hagia Sophia is open for visit every day except Mondays. The winter visiting hours for the Hagia Sophia are from 09.00 to 17.00, with the final entry being at 16.00. During the summer, the visiting hours are between 09.00 and 19.00, with the final entry being at 18.00. Passes are available at the box office in the museum. The Hagia Sophia, one of the historical architectural wonders that still remains standing today, has an important place in the art world with its architecture, grandness, size and functionality.

The Hagia Sophia, the biggest church constructed by the East Roman Empire in Istanbul, has been constructed three times in the same location. When it was first built, it was named Megale Ekklesia (Big Church); however, after the fifth century, it was referred to as the Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom). The church was the place in which rulers were crowned, and it was also the biggest operational cathedral in the city throughout the Byzantine period.

The first church was constructed by Emperor Konstantios (337-361) in 360. The first church was covered with a wooden roof and expanded vertically (basilica) yet was burned down after the public riot that took place in 404 as a result of the disagreements between Emperor Arkadios’ (395-408) wife empress Eudoksia and Istanbul’s patriarch Ioannes Chrysostomos, who was exiled.

The patriarch’s mosaic portrait can still be viewed at the tymphanon wall located in the northern part of the church. No remains have been recovered from the first church; however, the bricks found in the museum storage branded ‘Megale Ekklesia’ are predicted to belong to the first construction. The second church was reconstructed by Emperor Theodosios II (408-450) in 415. This basilical structure is known to contain five naves and a monumental entrance; it is also covered by a wooden roof.

The church was demolished in January 13, 532, after the public riot (Nika revolts) that took place during the fifth year of Emperor Justinianos’ reign (527-565), when the ‘blues’ who represented the aristocrats, and the ‘greens’ who represented the tradesman and merchants in the society, collaborated against the Empire.

Remains found during the excavations led by A. M Scheinder of the Istanbul German Archeology Institute, 2 meters below ground level, include steps belonging to the Propylon (monumental door), column bases and pieces with lamb embossings that represent the 12 apostles. In addition, other architectural pieces that belong to the monumental entrance can be seen in the west garden.

The current structure was constructed by Milet and Tralles, who were renowned architects of their time, by Emperor Justinianos’s (527-565) orders. Information from historian Prokopios states that the construction that began on February 23, 532, was completed in a short period of five years and the church was opened to worship with a ceremony on December 27, 537. Resources show that on the opening day of the Hagia Sophia, Emperor Justinianus entered the temple and said, “My Lord, thank you for giving me chance to create such a worshipping place,” and followed with the words “Süleyman, I beat you,” referring to Süleyman’s temple in Jerusalem.

The third Hagia Sophia construction combined the three traditional basilical plans with the central dome plan in design. The structure has three nefi, one apsi, and two narthex, internal and external. The length from the apsis to the outer narthex is 100 m, and the width is 69.5 m. The height of the dome from the ground level is 55.60 m and the radius is 31.87 m in the North to South direction and 30.86 in the East to West direction.

Emperor Justinianos ordered all provinces under his reign to send the best architectural pieces to be used in the construction so that the Hagia Sophia could be bigger and grander. The columns and marbles used in the structure have been taken from ancient cities in and around Anatolia and Syria, such as, Aspendus Ephessus, Baalbeek and Tarsa.

The white marbles used in the structure came from the Marmara Island, the green porphyry from Eğriboz Island, the pink marbles from Afyon and the yellow from North Africa. The decorative interior wall coatings were established by dividing single marble blocks into two and combining them in order to create symmetrical shapes. In addition, the structure includes columns brought in from the Temple of Artemis in Ephessus to be used in the naves, as well as 8 columns brought from Egypt that support the domes. The structure has a total of 104 columns, 40 in the lower and 64 in the upper gallery.

All the walls of the Hagia Sophia except the ones covered by marble have been decorated with exceptionally beautiful mosaics. Gold, silver, glass, terra cotta and colorful stones have been used to make the mosaics. The plant-based and geometric mosaics are from the 6th century, whereas the figured mosaics date back to the Iconoclast period.

During the East Roman period, the Hagia Sophia was the Empire Church and, as a result, was the place in which the emperors were crowned. The area that is on the right of the naos, where the flooring is covered with colorful stones creating an intertwining circular design (omphalion), is the section in which the Eastern Roman Emperors were crowned.

Istanbul was occupied by Latins between 1204 and 1261, during the Holy Crusades, when both the city and the church were damaged. The Hagia Sophia was known to be in bad condition in 1261, when Eastern Rome took over the city again.
 
Following Fatih Sultan Mehmet’s (1451-1481) conquer in 1453, Hagia Sophia was renovated into a mosque. The structure was fortified and was well protected after this period, and remained as a mosque. Additional supporting pillars were installed during the East Roman and Ottoman periods as a result of the damage that the structure experienced due to earthquakes in the region. The minarets designed and implemented by Mimar Sinan have also served to this purpose.

A madrasah was built towards the North or Hagia Sophia during Fatih Sultan Mehmed’s reign. This construction was abolished in the 17. Century. During Sultan Abdülmecid’s (1839-1861) reign, renovations were conducted by Fossati and a madrasah was rebuilt in the same place. The remains have been discovered during the excavations in 1934.

During the 16th and 17th century Ottoman period, mihrabs, minbar, maksoorahs, a preachment stand and a muezzin mahfili (a special raised platform in a mosque, opposite the minbar where a müuezzin kneels and chants in response to the imam’s prayers) were added to the structure.

The bronze lamps on two sides of the mihrab have been given as gifts to the mosque by Kanuni Sultan Süleyman (1520-1566) after his return from Budin.

The two marble cubes dating back to the Hellenistic period (30-330 B.C.) on both sides of the main entrance have been specially brought from Bergama and were given by Sultan Murad III (1574-1595) as gifts.

During the Sultan Abdülmecid period between 1847 and 1849, an extensive renovation in the Hagia Sophia was conducted by the Swiss Fossati twins, where the Hünkâr Mahfili (a separate compartment where the emperors pray) located in a niche in the Northern section was removed and another one towards the left of the mihrab was built.

The 8- 7.5 m diameter calligraphy panels that were written by Hattat Kazasker were placed in the main walls of the structure. The panels that read “Allah, Hz. Muhammed, Hz. Ebubekir, Hz. Ömer, Hz. Osman, Hz. Ali, Hz. Hasan ve Hz. Hüseyin” are known to be the biggest calligraphy panels in the Islamic world.

The Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum by goverment's orders and has been functioning as one since February 1, 1935, welcoming both local and foreign visitors. According to a deed dated 1936, the Hagia Sophia is registered as “Ayasofya-i Kebir Camii Şerifi on behalf of the Fatih Sultan Mehmed Foundation for maoseleum, akaret, muvakkithane and madrasah on 57 pafta, 57 island and 7th parcel.”

LOCATION SATELLITE MAP



WEB SITE : Hagia Sophia Museum Administration

MORE INFO & CONTACT
E-Mail : ayasofyamuzesi@kultur.gov.tr
Phone : +90 212 522 1750 / Tel: +90 212 522 0989
Fax : +90 212 512 5474

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

CHORA MUSEUM / PARECCLESION COLLECTIONS

Edirnekapı, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

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



PHOTOGRAPHS ALBUM

PARECCLESION
The apse determining the eastern ends of churches are the most important places of religious buildings in terms of liturgy and church symbolism. The rectangular parecclesion of Chora has been a structure the longitudinal effect of which is dominant visually as well, thanks to the rhythmic sequence of its dome, domical vault and the semi-dome of the apse from west to the east reinforced by the sequence of martyrs on the lower walls.

Except those in the tomb arcosolia, all frescoes of the chapel were got made immediately after the completion of the mosaics in the nave and in the narthexes by Theodore Metochites in 1320 and 1321.

On the other hand, the frescoes and portraits decorating the walls of tomb arcosolia were made when their owners had been buried in these tombs.

Bishop figures on the apse wall
The bishop figures are of human size and they are ordered according to their importance. The names of those saints in bishop dresses are inscribed next to their heads and they are holding closed books in their hands. Two bishop-saints who are the founders of the Byzantine liturgy are in the middle. Saint Basil is in the middle-right and on the right side of him are Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Athanasios and probably Saint Nicholas, whose name disappeared, respectively. On the left side of Saint Basil is Saint Gregory the Theologian, and Saint Cyril of Alexandria next to him.

The scene of Anastasis
It is painted on the semi-dome of the apse, which is the most important and the most remarkable place of the building. The Greek word “anastasis” means “resurrection”.

In the Byzantine art, during the ‘Anastasis’, Jesus Christ goes to the underworld (Hades) after his death, he liberates the prophets of the Old Testament who lived before him and who were held captive by the Devil, he ends the kingdom of Devil here, and pulls the people to the heaven after resurrecting them. This event is not mentioned in the gospels.

In the parecclesion of the Chora, this scene is depicted in such a manner that it covers the whole semi-dome of the apse. Jesus Christ is standing at the center of the triangular composition, inside a mandorla radiating white light and bearing yellow stars.    Inside the dark section under the feet of Jesus Christ, broken door wings and chain and lock pieces are seen. Additionally, a dark-skinned figure whose hands and feet are chained is lying. There is a sarcophagus in both sides of the dark section. Jesus Christ is pulling Adam from the sarcophagus on the right side of him and Eva from the sarcophagus on the left side of him out of their tombs by holding their hands. There is a group including the prophets of the Old Testament, namely John, David and Solomon, behind Adam, and Abel and seven persons in clergy tunics behind Eva.  Here, Adam and Eva are representing the whole humanity. The inscription on the upper part of this scene reads “Anastasis”.

Michael
The scene of anastasis on the semi-dome of the apse in the parecclesion unites with the scene of last judgment covering the upper walls of the domical vault. Exactly at the center of the wide bema arch forming the border of these two scenes is a portrait of Archangel Michael inside a medallion. This medallion, 1.21 m in diameter, is the largest portrait medallion in the parecclesion. The sphere in Michael’s left hand is inscribed with the initial letters of the words Christos Dikaios Krites, that is Christ the Equitable Judge, XΔK. He is holding a staff in his right hand. The portrait here is connected with the scene of last judgment, since one of the duties of Archangel Michael is to convey the judged souls to the heaven.

Scenes of raising
On the northern side of the bema arch is the scene where Jesus Christ raises the dead son of a widow from Nain. Together with his apostles, Jesus went to Nain and as he approached the city, he saw a dead person who was carried. The coffin belonged to the son of a widow from Nain and the woman was crying for her son. Jesus said, do not cry, before touching the coffin and saying “young man, I say to you, get up”. The young man sat up and began to talk. (Luke 7:11-15.)

In this scene, there are apostles behind Jesus Christ, who is standing and extending his arm towards the son of the widow. On the other hand, the son of the widow is in sitting position inside the coffin carried by four men. The inscription on the upper part of this composition reads, “Jesus is raising the son of the widow”.

On the southern side of the bema arch is the scene where Jesus is raising the daughter of Jairus. Jesus Christ held the wrist of the girl who was lying dead in her bed in the house of Jairus, and revived her. Thanks to this miracle, the girl sat up in her bed. The people around are watching this miracle in astonishment. (Mark 5:22-24, 35-43.)

There are six apostles behind Jesus and three women behind the bed. The old man standing at the center is Jairus.

The Last Judgment
The judgment scene on the domical vault in the east side of the parecclesion is forming the center of the Last Judgment composition that is covering the whole upper walls and the vault covering. There are literary sources stating that all human beings will be judged on the day of Last Judgment for their actions during their lives, and that they will either have an eternal and happy life in the heaven or writhe in the hell, according to the outcome of this judgment. The main literary source of scenes related to the day of Last Judgment is the Book of Revelation. Here, the rolling up of the skies, the throne set up for judgment and the judging of the souls before it, the delivery of the the dead by the seas and the lands, the lake of fire and the second life without death are described.

Scene of Deesis
Instead of reaching their gods directly, Byzantines preferred to reach them via holy persons supposedly closer to gods and able to reach them more easily. Those sacred persons who were considered as intermediaries between the god and human beings could be monks and bishops as well as saints who died for their religious beliefs especially in the first centuries of Christianity (martyrs), prophets of the Old Testament, archangels, angels and Mary (Theotokos), Mother of God. Above all, Virgin Mary, Mother of God, is thought to be the closest person to God. Virgin Mary appears in chapels, movable icons, illuminated manuscripts and special works, for she is seen as the mediator whose prayers are accepted.

The parecclesion of Chora was dedicated to Virgin Mary, the superior mediator. For the Byzantines, the second important mediator following Virgin Mary was John the Baptist, who had announced the coming of Jesus, who had baptized him and who had been his friend at the same time. Those two holy persons who had a great influence on Jesus as a mother and as a friend respectively are brought together by the Byzantine art in the scene known as the “Deesis”, and on the Day of Judgment, they pray to Jesus on behalf of all mortals.

At the center of the Last Judgment composition, Jesus is sitting on the throne of judgment, and Virgin Mary and John the Baptist are on either sides of Jesus, they are slightly turned towards him, and they are in praying position. Virgin Mary and John the Baptist are interceding on behalf of humanity. In the Last Judgment scene, the two figures behind Mary and John in emperor clothes are the archangels Michael and Gabriel. They are also participating in the scene of Deesis and interceding with Christ on behalf of humanity.

The word “Deesis” has been used since the 19th century. The scenes of Deesis that show the holiest persons interceding on behalf of people with God on the Day of Judgment are very important.

Scene of Last Judgment
The composition of the Last Judgment fresco covering the whole domical vault in the east section is circular. The impressive scene of “rolling up of the heaven” at the center of the circle, i.e. in the middle of the vault, is surrounded by the “choirs of the elect” (the choir of prophets, the choir of apostles, the choir of martyrs, the choir of holy women, the choir of saints, the choir of bishops). The scroll of the rolled up heaven in the middle of the vault is 86 cm in diameter and it is carried by an angel. It is very impressive thanks to the eye catching white color and the gold gilding.

The scroll of the heaven indicates that the heaven will be rolled up at the end of the time. The angel is rolling up and carrying the heaven over his head with two hands, and gold gilt stars, the moon and the sun are seen on the heaven that is being rolled up.

In the scene of judgment, Jesus is sitting on the throne at the center, Mary and John are standing on the right and left sides of him respectively, apostles are sitting in on both sides, and a group of angels is seen just behind Jesus. Around these two scenes, there are four clouds containing the choirs of the elect. Below the throne of Jesus, the inscription on the left side reads, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”, and the one on the right side reads, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels”.

In the scene just below the Jesus the throne is prepared. Here, there is a closed Bible on a simple throne, and there are Cherubim on both sides. Before the throne are Adam and Eve in kneeling position. The scale just below the throne is weighing the souls. There is a small figure under the scale and two angels who are holding books.

On the other side of the scale, a lake of fire beginning at Christ’s feet is reflecting the hell seen on the pendentive. Small figures (devil) are bringing some souls into the hell.

On the southwest pendendive of the vault, lands are depicted above, and seas are depicted below. The angels at the sides have turned their trumpets towards the ground and the sea. In the land, the dead are coming out of their graves, and in the sea, fishes are expelling human organs from their mouths. This scene is largely deformed.

It is claimed that the fresco of “angel and a soul” on the northwest pendentive is the soul of Metochites presented by the Archangel Michael. An angel, whose wings are open, is standing behind a small and naked figure (soul), and he has placed one of his hands upon the head of the soul.

On the two east pendentives is the fresco of “Lazarus the beggar and the rich man”. After his death, the soul of Lazarus the beggar is placed on the lap of Abraham by an Angel. There is an old man (Prophet Abraham) sitting among depictions of trees, the soul of poor Lazarus is depicted as a little child sitting on his lap, and many souls are standing in the background.

On the southeast pendentive, a naked figure is sitting in flames, and in the lower part, pieces of gold are spilling out of two bags with open mouths. Here, the story of Lazarus the beggar and the rich man who ill-treated him during his life in this world is depicted. Whereas the rich man is writhing in pain in the hell after his death, Lazarus is seen on the lap of Prophet Abraham in a garden full of flowers. In those two scenes on the southeast and northeast pendentives of the domical vault, the good are awarded and the evil punished.

The scene on the left side of the south wall of the eastern section is divided into four parts. Each of them depicts one kind of torture in the hell with a different color. “The gnashing of teeth” is depicted at the upper left, “the outer darkness” at the upper right, “the worm that sleepeth not” at the lower left, and “the unquenchable fire” at the lower right.

Virgin Eleousa
In the depiction on the south column of the bema arch, the full-length Virgin Mary is standing on a rectangular platform, holding the child Christ in her arms, and kindly pressing her cheek to his one. Here, the emotional relationship between mothers and their sons is depicted. The monograms of Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ are next to their heads.

Only very small fragments of the fresco above the entrance on the west wall and on the west arch have survived.

The entry of the elect into paradise
At the center of the composition on the north wall of the eastern section is a gate guarded by a cherub who is holding a sword. On the right side, Saint Peter, who is holding a key, is moving towards the gate with the group of elect behind him. On the right side of the gate, the “good thief”, who is holding a cross inside the paradise decorated with trees and plants, invites them into the interior. And Virgin Mary can be seen on the left side between two angels.

Transport of the Ark of the Covenant
In the scene on the right side of the south wall of the eastern section, the transport of the Ark of the Covenant is depicted. Four priests are carrying the Ark of the Covenant, a triangular prism decorated with yellow, purple and marble-like strips, on their shoulders. The inscription at the upper left reads, “and, when Solomon built the house of the Lord, he summoned the elders of Israel in Zion.

He said that the ark of the Lord’s covenant could be brought from Zion, the city of David. And the priests took the ark of the Lord’s covenant and the tent of meeting (tabernacle)”. This ark made of shittim-wood, the interior and exterior of which was plated with gold, contains the two stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed by Moses upon the orders of God.

THE DOME AND PENDENTIVES OF THE WESTERN SECTION OF THE PARECCLESION

Virgin Mary
The Virgin Mary portrait inside the rainbow-bordered medallion at the center of the dome, which covers the western section of the parecclesion and is 4.70 cm in diameter, is dominating the whole room.

According to the Byzantines, Virgin Mary was both the most important mediator between the humans and God, and a kind mother. Inside the rainbow-bordered medallion at the center of the large dome, which covers the whole western section and represents the heaven, are Virgin Mary and child Jesus in his arms depicted. The dome is divided into 12 segments by 12 windows providing light to the Virgin Mary figure. Those segments contain the full-length frescoes of 12 angels.

The angels, which are standing and depicted similar to one another, are holding long staffs in their right hands. Four angels (Gabriel, Michael, Uriel and Raphael) are holding a crystal ball bearing the cross and “X” signs, whereas the other angels hold their clothes with their left hands. The angels wear an imperial shawl. Each angel figure bears an inscription that reads, “Angel of the Lord”.

On the other hand, at the end of a staff held by one of the angels, the word “Hagios” (saint) is inscribed three times. The wide strips dividing the dome into segments and located between the angel figures are richly decorated with plant motifs.

The Four Hymnographers
Four hymn writers (hymnographers) are depicted on the four pendentives of the dome covering the western section. The hymns of these poets are sung especially during death rituals.

On the northeast pendentive, Saint John of Damascus, who wrote hymns for funerals, is depicted. The Arab Christian monk-priest who lived between 676 and 749 died in the monastery in Jerusalem founded by him. Here, the hymnographer saint who is depicted sitting on the armchair next to a table and writing on a scroll of paper on an elevated writing desk upon the table. Although it is not possible to read the full text, it is understood that this part contains a verse of one of his hymns: “What joy of life abideth, without the smart of woe?” The saint is barefoot and he wears a tunic, a coat and a turban. There are architectural units in the background. The inscription above his head reads, “Hagios Ioannes Damaskenos”.

On the southeast pendentive, Saint Cosmas, hymn writer, poet and bishop, is seen. Cosmas is sitting on a bench, the table of which is low, and there is a low stool under his feet. There are a penholder, an inkpot and a penknife on the table. The portrait of the saint is well-preserved. There is an open book in one of his arms, and a pen in his other hand. Architectural units are seen in the background and the inscription above his head reads, “Hagios Cosmas, poet”.

On the southwest pendentive,Joseph, 9th-century hymn writer, is depicted holding the scroll containing the Akathist Hymn, one of the most important Byzantine hymns dedicated to Virgin Mary. There are a pen, a penholder and an inkpot on the table. Again, there is a book on the elevated writing desk upon the table, and there are architectural structures in the background. The inscription above the head of Joseph reads, “Hagios Joseph, poet”, and the one on the paper scroll in his hand reads, “The forgiver of the world, o the spotless Virgin”.

On the northwest pendentive,Saint Theophanes, 9th-century poet and hymn writer who was a monk at the Chora monastery and buried here, is depicted. In the period of iconoclasm in the 9th century, he had an inscription carved on his face, and therefore he received the name of Graptus, meaning written upon.

Here, the saint is sitting at the table on a chair with a deep back and his feet are on a platform. There are writing instruments on his table, and the saint is writing in a book in his lap. The inscription above his head reads, “Hagios Theophanes”, and the one on the open book reads, “after violating the holy commandments of God, we returned to the earth again”. This verse is taken from a hymn of Theophanes sung during funerals. The furnishings seen in these scenes reflect the characteristic 14th-century medieval features.

In the Parecclesion, Old Testament stories are depicted in the frescoes on the walls between the dome and above the cornice level.

Jacob’s ladder and Jacob wrestling with an angel
On the right side of the tympanum on the north wall in the western section, Jacob’s ladder and Jacob’s wrestling with an angel are depicted. Here, while traveling to Haran, Jacob puts a stone under his head to sleep, and he dreams a ladder between the earth and the heaven, on which the angels are descending and ascending.

The inscription below left, above the head of Jacob, reads, “Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep”, the one on the right side, between the scenes of the ladder and the wrestling, reads, “and he dreamed there...”, and the one above right reads, “he saw a ladder resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord”. Virgin Mary and Child Christ in her arms are seen at the upper right corner.

Under the ladder, Jacob is depicted wrestling with an angel. This event occurred during his return from Haran. Although Jacob’s seeing a ladder in his dream and wrestling with an angel are two different events, they are depicted together in the Byzantine painting.

Moses and the burning bush
On the right side of the north wall of the western section is the scene of Moses and the burning bush. While God was speaking to Moses from within a bush, the bush was on fire, but was not consumed by the flames. An old man with a beard (Moses) is standing on the left side, and a bush is burning in flames opposite to him. There are the portraits of Virgin Mary and Child Christ inside a medallion in the bush. An angel appearing on the upper part of the bush is calling to Moses. There are hills and the Mount Sinai in the background. Below, Moses is sitting on the ground and taking off his sandals.

The inscription at the upper left corner reads, “and he came to Horeb, the mountain of God, and there the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush”, and the ones at the lower left corner read, “take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground” and “Prophet Moses”.

Moses hiding his face
On the north side of the arch between the eastern and western sections is the scene of Moses’ hiding his face. A standing bearded old man (Moses) holding a staff is on the left side, and his face is turned away in order to avoid the light of the burning bush opposite to him. There are the portraits of Virgin Mary and Child Christ inside the medallion in the middle of the bush. Just before the medallion, an outstretched angel is speaking to Moses. The inscription on the upper part of the scene reads, “Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God”.

Transport of the sacred furnishings
On the south side of the arch between the eastern and western sections is the scene of the transport of sacred furnishings. Here, the transport of the sacred pot (stamnos) and the seven-branched candelabrum (menorah) taken from the sacred tent of meeting (tabernacle) of Jews is depicted. One of the two priests is carrying the seven-branched candelabrum with his two raised hands, and the other is carrying a pot resembling an amphora on his shoulders. A paper scroll is seen inside the pot. Assumedly, the candelabrum’s “carrying the light” is the forerunner of Virgin Mary, and the sacred “manna” inside the sacred pot is the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Manna is the food provided by God to the Jews when they were in exile in the desert.

Gathering of Solomon and the assembly of Israel
On the left side of the south wall of the western section, the gathering of Solomon and the assembly of Israel is depicted. Solomon is leading the whole tribe for the ceremonies related to the placing of the sacred furnishings in the sanctuary of the new temple. On the right side, Solomon in imperial clothes is leading the crowd before him with a censer in his hand. The inscription on the scene reads, “and the king and Israelites gathered before the Ark of the Covenant”.

Placing of the Ark of the Covenant in the sanctuary of the temple
On the right side of the south wall of the western section, the placing of the Ark of the Covenant in the sanctuary of the temple is depicted. The covenant is placed in the most holy place of the temple. The two priests on the right side are placing the ark on the covered altar table in the sanctuary.

Two cherubim are standing behind the altar table. Israelite elders are depicted before the structure at upper left, and the heaven is depicted with nested circles in the uppermost part. From here, a beam of light is shining towards the altar and Israelites. The inscription at the upper left reads, “and the priests then brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim”.

Prophecy of Isaiah and Archangel Michael Destroying the Assyrian Army Before Jerusalem
On the south side of the western arch, the Prophecy of Isaiah and Archangel Michael’s destroying the Assyrian army before Jerusalem is depicted. Isaiah predicted that the Assyrian army that besieged Jerusalem would fail and the angel of God destroyed the Assyrian army before Jerusalem with his sword. An old man on the left side (Prophet Isaiah) is holding an open paper scroll in his left hand and pointing forward with his right hand.

The wings and clothes of Michael, who is pointed to, are flying, he is preparing to use the sword raised by his right hand, and holding the scabbard of the sword in his left hand. Assyrian soldiers are lying on the ground. A city surrounded by walls is seen in the background. There is a portrait of Virgin Mary on the spectacular gate of the city. Some words on the paper scroll held by Isaiah can be read. The complete version of this inscription should read, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, he will not be able to enter into this city”.

Aaron and his sons before the Altar
On the north side of the western arch, the story of Aaron and his sons before the Altar is depicted. Here, the first priests of the tent-temple established by Moses, namely Aaron and his sons are giving their offerings. Both Aaron, who is depicted as the old person in the front, and each of his two sons, who are depicted as young persons behind him, is holding a box containing the offerings. On the right side is a covered altar table inside a marble niche. Sections of buildings are depicted in the background, and the pointed beams originating from the nested circles depicting the heaven extend toward Aaron and his sons. Only two words of the inscription on the upper part of the scene can be read: “Altar” and “burnt offering”.

Virgin Mary is the central figure in the iconography of the western section of the parecclesion. The stories from the Old Testament have been interpreted as an expression, a forerunner of the arrival of Virgin Mary and thus the arrival of Jesus Christ. Those stories are on some Marian feast days. The Akathist Hymn, which has an important place among the hymns, is about death. The content of this hymn is compared with the Old Testament stories in the parecclesion.

Martyrs
On the walls of the parecclesion below cornices are full-length figures of martyrs (saints killed for following Christianity - military saints). Martyrs, military saints are holy persons recognized by Byzantines as mediators to reach God. Especially in the last periods of the Byzantine Empire, the portraits of the military saints were painted on the lower walls of churches and chapels.

From the south to the west, until the northeast, the wall sections below the cornices are decorated with depictions of martyrs. First, on the southeastern wall are Saint George of Cappadocia and Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki. In the medallions on the two sides of the arcosolium arch between these saints are the portraits of Saint Florus and Saint Laurus. The full-length depictions of saints are in hierarchical order: Saint Theodore of Tyre, Saint Theodore Stratelates, Saint Mercurius and Saint Procopius are depicted in armored clothes.

There is an unidentified saint next to Saint Sabbas Stratelates. Saint David of Thessalonika is sitting in a bird’s nest on top of a tree. Saint Eustathius Placidus is in military uniform. Saints Samonas and Gruias of Edessa are in martyr clothes. Saint Artemius or Saint Nicetas, whose full name cannot be read, is in military uniform. The portraits of Saint Bacchus and Saint Sergius are in medallions. On the other hand, the depiction of a saint in military uniform, a portrait of a saint inside a medallion, and the depiction of a saint on a column are unfinished.

Saints in military uniform have short tunics under their armors, and some of them carry lances and shields. Some of them are depicted with raised swords, in a raid. The saint depictions on the entrance arches of the two tomb arcosolia and diaconicon in the western section are portraits inside medallions. Saints that are not in military uniform are in martyr clothes.

TOMB NICHES (ARCOSOLIA) IN THE PARECCLESION

Frescoes inside the niche wall and arch of the southeast arcosolium (A)
The sarcophagi of the four tomb arcosolia in the parecclesion have not survived. On the niche wall of the southeast arcosolium, there are frontal paintings of four figures standing side by side above the sarcophagus level. The two men with court and religious clothes in the middle and the two women on either sides with both court and religious clothes represent the same two persons and they are the portraits of the husband and wife buried here. However, the identities of the owners of this tomb could not be determined.

On the upper part of this niche arch, just above the portraits, inside a cornered mandorla, a half-length Jesus whose hands are open is shining. A seraph is seen on the left side, whereas the depiction on the right side is not visible due to the deterioration here. On either side of the inner wall of the arch is a half-length angel figure praying with upraised hands.

Frescoes inside the niche wall and arch of the southwest arcosolium (B)
On the niche wall, above the sarcophagus level, only the shoulders of Virgin Mary and the hand of Child Christ raised in benediction is seen, because most of the tiles of the mosaic depiction have fallen down. On the right side, Michael Tornikes, who is resting in this tomb, is depicted standing and wearing court clothes. The lower part of the figure is destroyed and only the part over the shoulders is visible. The inscription on the upper section reads, “same person, monk Makarios”.

On the right side is the figure of Tornikes’ wife, turned towards Virgin Mary and praying with upraised hands. The inscription on the upper section reads, “same person, nun Eugenia”. The feet of this figure as well are destroyed. Both figures are frescoes. The upper part of the arcosolium arch is decorated with a mosaic cross motif inside nested circles. On the left side of the inner wall of the arch is the mosaic portrait of Tornikes wearing monk clothes, and on the right side is the mosaic portrait of his wife. Since the lower parts of both mosaics are destroyed, only the parts above the waists are seen.

On the monumental marble frame of the tomb, there are archangels on both sides of Jesus, and a long inscription (epitaphios) above this composition. This tomb belongs to Michael Tornikes, the close friend of Metochites who was the “Great Constable” at the court of Andronikos II. The original decoration was made of mosaic, but it was complemented with frescoes after having been destroyed in the Byzantine period. The Virgin Mary figure at the center of the niche and the figures inside arches are made of mosaic and the two figures on the sides of niches are frescoes.

The large arcosolium in the northwest wall of the chapel (C), assumedly belonging to Theodore Metochites
In order to highlight the importance of the tomb, an arched marble frame was formed. There is a relief of Jesus at the center of the arch, and reliefs of angels with faces looking toward Jesus on either sides of the arch. The monograms of the figures on the marble indicate that they are the archangels Michael and Gabriel. The faces of the figures are quite destroyed. On the marble frames of the tomb niches in the parecclesion, the background is painted blue and the reliefs are painted yellow. There is no inscription on this marble frame stating the owner of the tomb.

The arcosolium in the northeast wall (D)
The tomb in the northeast wall has no frame. Since there are neither frescoes or mosaic decorations inside the arch, nor an inscription, the owners of this tomb are not known.

LOCATION SATELLITE MAP



WEB SITE : Kariye Museum Administration / Chora Museum Administration

MORE INFO & CONTACT
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

CHORA MUSEUM / MOSAIC COLLECTIONS

Edirnekapı, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

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



PHOTOGRAPHS ALBUM

MOSAIC SCENES IN THE NAOS

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.

MOSAIC SCENES AT THE ENTRANCE

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.

INNER NARTHEX MOSAICS

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)”.

OUTER NARTHEX MOSAICS

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.

TOMB NICHES (ARCOSOLIUM) IN THE OUTER NARTHEX
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.

DEPICTIONS ON THE LUNETTES AND WINDOW ARCHES OF THE OUTER NARTHEX

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.

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