Kariye Museum originaly formed the center of a byzatine monastery complex.Only the church section,which was dedicated to Jesus Christ the Saviour,has survived.After the arrival of the Turks in Istanbul, this building,like the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque.In 1948 it was made a museum leaving no Islamic element in the building except the 19C minaret outside in the corner.

"Kariye" is the Turkish adaptation of an ancient Greek word "Chora" which refers to countryside.Considering the perimeter of the walls of Constantine (4C AD) the building was located out of the city.If this theory
is correct , Chora Monastery should have been from the 4C.But unfortunately according to sources,the existence of Chora Monastery before the 8C is not certain.
Chora went through many restorations the last most significant instigated by Theodorus Metochitus,prime minister and first lord of the treasuary,In the beginnig of the 14C.The three most
important features of the church,mosaics,frescoes and the funerary chapel(Paracclesion) are from that period.Theodorus Metochitus built the Paracclesion for himself and he was burried in the entrance of the church:his grave bears a marble stone.The art of painting in frescoes and mosaics were the indications of a new Byzantine art movement which was parallel to Italian Renainsance started by Giotto (1266-1337).

The building consists of the nave,the inner narthex,outer narthex and the paracclesion.The domes of the inner narthex and the paracclesion are lower than the main dome and are only seen from the rear of the church.

The dome is supported on four huge plasters in the corners and four great arches spring from these.The transitionis supplied by pendentives.The drum has 16 flutes,each pierced by a window. Entrance to the nave is through both outer and inner narthexes. The niches in the paracclesion were built to keep sarcophagi,as this section was the funerary chapel.

In the mosaics,the lives of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary are depicted.Background elements and architectural motifs are highlighted to give depht.The scenes are realistic as if they were taken from daily with figures
correctly proportioned.Jesus has a humanitarian look upon his face.

 Mosaics can be devided into 7 cycles:the nave panels ;the six large dedicatory panels in the inner and outer narthexes;the ancestry of Jesus in the two domes of the inner narhtex;life of the Virgin Mary in the first
three bays of the inner narthex;the infancy of Jesus in the lunettes of the outer narthex;the ministry of Jesus on the vaults of the outer narthex and the fourth bay in the inner narthex;and finally the portraits of the saints.