Wednesday 20 April 2011 by Stuart Baines. 5 comments
Battlefield Tours, Istanbul, Simpson Prize 2011

Chora church Mosaic
Once again the day is started with a great meal. Breakfast is served in an underground area, an old cistern converted into quite a unique restaurant. The plan for today was to visit one of the gems of Istanbul and one of my personal favourites, Chora church. The little tucked away church was not so tucked away when we turned into the street and saw a dozen coaches of various sizes. We turned away and headed to the Istanbul technology museum. It is a museum that is run by a private family, an incredibly well off family, and it seemed definitely like a place where they were indulging there passions. A fantastic collection of cars, boats, computers, tractors... well let’s face it a bit of everything. It was fascinating and I think that the boys definitely enjoyed the big eclectic collection.

We made our way to Taxim Square for lunch and got to see an interesting display of how passionate the Turkish people are about their political processes. Hundreds of Police, hundreds of protesters but all very peaceful. Istiklal street runs into Taxim square and it is a 1.4 km strip of shops cafes and restaurants frequented by the younger Turkish crowd. It is always busy and the later it gets the more people crammed into the street. The kids had a lot of fun shopping and buying plenty of Turkish delight.

After lunch we made our way to Chora church. It is a museum now but we would call it in Australia a heritage building. It is a former catholic church, converted to a mosque and then converted back again. It is adorned with beautiful mosaics, a lot of the tiny tiles made from glass dipped in gold the walls shimmer as they tell their biblical stories. One of areas has magical frescos, the oldest outside of Italy, that have been restored and really give a sense of how important and how old this church really is. It is only a small church but there is something quite humble and unassuming about the place despite how brilliant the place is. Everyday here there seems to be something that just makes you smile that shows that great Turkish uniqueness. Sorry to give you another animal story but as we moved about in Chora we saw one of the many, many stray cats trot its way through the hundreds of legs and disappear threw a doorway. I half expected the security guards to chase it out but there was no commotion and no reaction. Seemingly anyway. When we walked into the next chamber, there in the middle of the room was the cat sitting on a marble square that was a feature block amongst the rest of the floor. The rooms other occupants were a bus load of tourists all wondering what was the better photo opportunity, the mosaic ,hundreds of years old, steeped in history and religious symbolism, or the cat licking itself.



The mosaic looks brilliant. Has it been damaged at all during any historical upheavals?

Stuart Baines says:

There has been lots of damage in Chora Church but it still is one of the best little places in Istanbul. The walls were plastered over covering the frescos and the mosaics and as the tiles are made of glass dipped in gold there is two good reasons for there to be large areas missing.

Tony Rowe

I have been at the Kum Hotel for a few days now and will be staying for a few more. I'm researching an article that Im writing for the AWM Journal...Wartime. From here im off to greece and crete for the 70th anniversary of the 2nd AIF's torrid time with the Germans. Its been great following ur blog...and it was wonderful to see how well behaved ur group is. A wonderful group of young Australians I saw a few of them make a small presentation to the waiters after breakfast before you made me smile with pride. Good on you Good luck for the rest of your journey

Lou Bougias

Chora Church was an Orthodox Church Stuart,

Stuart Baines says:

Your right my mistake, sorry all