Constantinople: The Chora Monastery was inaugurated as a mosque

Hagia Sophia has been officially converted into a mosque as the first prayer in the presence of Recep Tayyip Erdogan is underway. Muslims flock to the spot.
Hagia Sophia officially opened its gates to the Muslim faithful as a mosque after its transformation into a place of religious worship,

This is the monument with the most elaborate Byzantine mosaics preserved in the city.
The Monastery of Chora was built on the site of today's Edirne Kapou district, south of the Kratio gulf and close to the Theodosian walls. The monument today is known as the Chora Museum.

"Horion" or "Chora" was what the Byzantines called the plain land outside the land walls and the name of the monastery is probably due to the existence of an older temple outside the walls of Constantine I.

When Theodosius II built the new walls of Constantinople, the monastery retained the traditional designation "in the Country", despite the fact that it belonged to the fortifications.

Above the large door through which he entered the temple from the inner narthex, there is the image of Theodore of Metochitis, in the mosaic that shows Metochitis offering to the enthroned Christ the Savior an effigy of the temple.

The temple had two naves which were decorated with mosaics and frescoes by Theodoros Metohitis.

The exonarthex mosaics are six semicircles depicting Christ healing various diseases. Also numerous images decorate the domes and walls.

The icons are among the most beautiful Byzantine ones. The colors are intense, the proportions of the limbs harmonious and the expression of the faces natural.

The middle dome has a crack running through it. In the interior of the temple, several harmoniously assembled marbles are preserved. The Ottomans have covered some surfaces with lime.

The history of the monastery
The early history of the monastery is not known with certainty. The tradition that accompanies it places its foundation in the 6th century by Saint Theodore, while it has also been attributed to Crispus, son-in-law of the emperor Phokas (7th century).

Today it has been proven that the temple was built in the period 1077-81 by the mother-in-law of Alexios I Komnenos Maria Doukaina, on the site of older buildings dating back to the 6th and 9th centuries. It suffered severe damage, probably due to an earthquake, and was repaired in 1120 by Isaac Komnenos.

Theodoros Metohitis contributed to its renovation (1316-21) and was responsible for the addition of the exonarthex, the south chapel, as well as for the decoration of the church which included remarkable mosaics and frescoes.

In addition, he bequeathed the monastery considerable property, while building a hospital and donating to it his valuable collection of books, which later attracted important scholars.

The monastery was converted into an Ottoman mosque by order of the Grand Vizier of Sultan Bayezid II in 1511 and became known as the Kariye Mosque. A significant part of the temple's decoration was destroyed.

In 1945, when it became a museum by decision of the Turkish cabinet, specialists from the US carried out a huge restoration and conservation project for the mosaics and frescoes, peeling away plasters that covered them. The work, which started in 1948, was completed ten years later, in 1958.

But in 2019 Turkey's Council of State overturned the 1945 decision and Erdogan announced that the monument would once again function as a mosque.