Today we saw Chora Church (pronounced "whore-ah")--also known as Kariye Camii. The name "Chora" is really just the last word of the formal greek title for the church: ἡ Ἐκκλησία του Ἅγιου Σωτῆρος ἐν τῃ Χώρᾳ (i.e.: the Church of the Holy Saviour in the Country). "Chora" means country. This church was located outside the walls built by Constantine (but was later enveloped by the growing city and the Theodosian walls built to protect the enlarged metropolis). The original church was built in the 5th century, but it went through several revisions (some necessitated by earthquakes, etc.). The most impressive parts of the current structure, including the elaborate mosaics and frescoes, were built in the 14th century. The man responsible for them, Theodore Metochites, was a rare man gifted academically and politically. He was the Byzantine equivalent of the Prime Minister at the height of his power, but then a regime change brought about his exile. He was allowed to return to Constantinople having promised to stay out of politics and be a monk at the Chora. This he did. In his last years he wrote that he hoped the Chora Church would secure his legacy until the end of the ages. It just might.
Impressive mosaics, frescos, and marble work fill the place--and yet so much is lost from it's Byzantine glory. We took a ton of pictures, but it's late and I need to get to bed. I'll just wrap up by saying that I'm enjoying this city more and more as I stay here. The place is electric with energy and vibrant in a dozen ways. Just walking down the streets is exhilarating.