Kariye Museum Mosaics and Marble Decorations

Kariye Museum is a museum located in Karagümrük district of Fatih district of Istanbul. During the Byzantine period, the church was used as a mosque after the conquest of Istanbul. The history of this building dates back 6th century. Since 1956, it has been serving as a museum. With the frescoes and mosaics, you can add Kariye Museum to your list, which has attracts a lot of local and foreign tourists.

History of Kariye Museum

The history of the Kariye Museum dates back to the 6th century and has reached its daily structure. It has been restored during the Ottoman period and the second half of the 20th century. There was monastery around the original building but this complex has been eroded over time. The monastery was built in 534 by Saint Teodius in the period of Justinian and 58 years after the conquest of Istanbul in 1511 it was turned into a mosque by Atik Ali Pasha who was one of the grand vizier in Sultan II. Bayezid period. For this reason, it is called as “Atik Ali Pasha Mosque” and “Kariye Mosque”. The mosaics and frescoes of the church are covered with plaster due to the restoration.


In addition, a minaret was added to the building and the mihrab was added to the interior part. The mosque was closed in the 20th century and the plaster inside the building was cleaned with a sponsorship of various institutions in US, frescoes and mosaics brought to the surface. When it came to the age of 1956, it started to serve as a museum.

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In terms of architecture, it is a typical Byzantine structure and the interior is rather plain and the interior is quite ornate.

Since Fatih district is a peninsula witnessing many historical events, there are many other alternatives to go after visiting the Kariye Museum. The museums you can see include Istanbul Archeology Museum, Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapı Palace, Grand Palace Mosaic Museum, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar Literature Museum Library, Gazanfer Ağa Madrasah, Istanbul University Zoology Museum, Islamic, Science and Technology Museum. When you go to Fatih, you can choose the museums that attract your interest and visit them.

Kariye Museum: Mosaics

The Kariye Museum’s mosaics are among the most outstanding examples of Byzantine art in the last period. In the outer narthex, there are pictures about Jesus, and in the inner narthex, there are pictures about Virgin Mary. The narratives are arranged in chronological order. The first mosaic depicts that Virgin Mary’s upset face because she could not have a child and the last mosaic depicts the separation of Joseph and Mary. The first mosaic on the outside depicts Yusuf’s dream. Another of the mosaics is depict of Pantokatori Jesus, located at the many Orthodox churches and tells greatness of Jesus.

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On the left side, there are scenes such as the birth of Jesus, that the angel showed herself to Joseph and her advice, the multiplication of the breed, the transformation of water into a wine; on the right side that runner gods gave the good news of the birth of Jesus, heal the paralyzed people and killing the children. The theme of the inner mosaics is the evangels of life of the Virgin Mary and the miracles of Jesus. In addition to the mosaics that have reached until today with little damage on the surface, it is also possible to see colored and patterned marble facades. One of the interesting mosaics that you can see in the museum is the mosaic that Theodoros Metokhites, who restored the church and decorated it with mosaics. You can see much more things in naos, entrance, interior narthex and outer narthex section in the Kariye Museum.

Kariye Museum: Marble Ornaments

The marbles may remain in the background sometimes because the visitors show interest to especially the mosaics and frescoes. The work of marble ornaments in Kariye Museum is as rich and flashy as the marbles in the Hagia Sophia Museum. In Kariye, apart from Marmara marbles, there are porphyry, antique green, and onyx, red, yellow and pink colored marbles brought from different places like North Africa, Euboea Island and Afyon. The shapes on surface of the marbles resemble chopped wood pattern and rich symmetrical shapes. You can notice the elaborate marble work used in the frames of the grave niches, marble inlay cornices, reliefs painted with yellow and dark colors at the top of the column, at the first door on the north side of the entrance to the naos.

Kariye Museum: Entrance Fee and Visit Hours

Entrance fee for Kariye Museum: 30 Turkish Lira

Summer period: 09:00 – 19:00

Winter season: 09:00 – 16:30

You can visit there every day of the week.

With Müze Pass, you can visit unlimitedly 2 times a year.

Kariye Museum: Contact Info

Address: Dervişali Street, Kariye Mosque Avenue No: 8, Fatih / Istanbul.

E-Mail: [email protected]

Phone: 0212 631 92 41 – 0212 522 09 89

Kariye Museum: Transportation

Bus: 41ST Seyrantepe-Topkapı, 522B Yenidoğan-Topkapı, 500A Edirnekapı-Kadiköy, 500T Tuzla-Cevizlibağ, 500L Cevizlibağ-Levent, 41AT Ayazağa Village-Davutpaşa Yıldız Technical University, 75M Beyazit-Mecidiyeköy, 77MT Mecidiyeköy-Edirnekapı-Taksim, 93M Zeytinburnu – Mecidiyeköy.

Metrobus: After reaching the Edirnekapı stop, you can reach the museum after walking approximately 15 minute. If you do not want to walk, you can opt for buses and minibuses going to Suriçi.

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