Housing a treasure trove of gorgeous Byzantine mosaics and frescoes, the Holy Savoir of Chora Church (now a museum) is not to be missed. Originally known as the Church of the Holy Savior Outside the Walls to reflect its site beyond the walls constructed by Constantine the Great (the Greek chora or khora refers to land beyond the settled metropolis), the initial fourth-century structure has been replaced by buildings dating from the eleventh, twelfth, and fourteenth centuries. Virtually all of the interior decoration—the famous mosaics and the less renowned but equally striking frescoes—dates from 1312 and was funded by Theodore Metochites, a poet and man of letters who was the official responsible for the Byzantine treasury under Emperor Andronikos II (reigned 1282–1328). One of the museum's most wonderful mosaics, found above the door to the nave in the inner narthex, depicts Theodore offering the church to Christ.
Today the Chora consists of five main architectural units: the nave, the two-storied structure (annex) added to the north, the inner and the outer narthexes, and the chapel for tombs to the south. Most of the interior is covered with mosaics depicting the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary. Be sure not to miss the Khalke Jesus , depicting Christ and Mary with two donors: Prince Isaac Comnenos and Melane, daughter of Mikhael Palaiologos VIII. On the dome itself is a stunning depiction of Jesus and his ancestors. On the narthex's left dome is a beautiful mosaic of Mary and the Baby Jesus Surrounded by Ancestors. In the nave are three lovely mosaics: Christ; Mary and the Baby Jesus; and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. To the right of the nave is a side chapel built to hold the tombs of the church's founder and his relatives, close friends, and associates. This is richly decorated with frescoes dealing with themes of death and resurrection and depicting scenes taken from the Old Testament. The striking painting in the apse known as the Anastasis shows a powerful Christ raising Adam and Eve out of their sarcophagi, with saints and kings in attendance. The gates of hell are shown under Christ's feet. Less majestic but no less beautiful are the frescoes adorning the dome, which depict Mary and twelve attendant angels.