The Chora Church

The Chora Church takes its name from the Greek word "Chora," which means "rural, outside the city," because it was outside the city walls of Constantinople when it was first built. It is one of the most visited churches in Istanbul. It has been believed that the location of the church is holy due to the rumor that the tombs of Saint Babylas and his 84 students, who were martyred in the great massacre in Nicomedia (Iznik) in 298, are here. The church was damaged several times over the course of time due to the Latin invasion in the 13th century and other natural causes, but finally, in the 14th century, Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II repaired it and added the frescoes that have survived to the present day. The unbiblical life story of Mary—her birth, her first steps, Gabriel's announcement that she would have a child, the final trial scene, the resurrection (Anastasis), and more—can be seen on the Chora frescoes.