Meet your guide and drive to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate which is located in Fener. There you will visit the main building – the church of St. George – was originally part of the Orthodox nunnery. One of the most valuable and ancient relics in the church is part of the pole to which Christ was bound before being flogged and crucified by Roman soldiers. In the main cathedral are relics of three female saints; Saint Euphemia the Great Martyr and St. Theophano who was the wife of Emperor Leo the Wise. The third set of relics belongs to Saint Mary Salome.
After exploring the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, next spot is the Church of St. Mary of the Mongols, the only Byzantine church that has never ceased conducting divine services and that did not become a mosque.
Then you will continue your day by visiting Church of St. Mary of Blachernae which is one of the most revered Orthodox Christian churches. In the Vlaherna Church is found the Holy Virgin’s robe, Her omophorion (head cover) and part of Her belt that was brought from Palestine in 457.
Our next destination is St. Savior in Chora, now the Kariye Museum, but originally a Byzantine monastery with fantastic mosaics and frescoes that portray scenes from the bible. The building that is located in the Edirnekapı neighborhood of Istanbul and called the “Chora Museum” (Kariye Muzesi) is a church building that constitutes the center of the Chora Monastery, which was a great building complex in the Eastern Roman Empire period, and it was dedicated to Jesus Christ. Since it stood outside of the city walls built by Constantine, the building was called “Chora”, which means “in the country” or “outside of the city” in Greek.
After the Conquest of Constantinople, the Ottomans converted the church to a mosque and named as Kariye Camii (Kariye Mosque). The mosaics and frescoes were covered with a plaster because of the prohibition of images in Islam, a Mihrab was added, and a minaret was built outside. In the beginning of the 20th century the minaret collapsed on the dome because of an earthquake, thus the dome was rebuilt but mosaics were lost.
After the Republic, experts on the Byzantine art came to Istanbul to work on the restorations of the Chora in order to uncover fantastic mosaics and frescoes. It was opened to the public as a museum in 1958.
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