Kariye is located at Edirnekapı section of Istanbul. The dictionary meaning of Kariye (Caria) is “outside of the city”, or “rural” in old Greek. The existence of a chapel outside the city walls in very old is mentioned in some sources. The first Khora Church was built on the site of this chapel by Justinianus.
The building which managed to survive until the times of the Commenos with various additions and repairs, gained importance when the Imperial Palace Blakhernia near the city walls was expanded. At the end of 11th century Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law of Emperor Alexi I had it rebuild.
The church has a kiborion shaped space whose dome is carried by four arches. During the Latin occupation of 1204 – 1261, both the monastry and the church became extremely run down. During the reign of Andronikos (1282 – 1326), one of the prominent names of the day, the writer, poet and the minister of treasury Theodore Methocite had the monastry and the church repaired towards 1313, and had an annex to the north of the building, an outer narthex to the west and a chapel (Parekklesion) to the south.
These new additions were decorated with frescoes and mosaics. Parekklesion, which is a long single naved chapel going along the southern facade, is built above a basement floor. It is partially covered with a dome and the remaining sections are covered by vaults. It has a single abscissa.
The outer narthex which runs along the full western facade forms the present facade. The northern wing is only an insignificant corridor. The central dome has a high drum. It is a Turkish period restoration and is made of wood. Outer facades are given plasticity and movement with round arches, half braces, niches and rows of stone and brick. The eastern facade is finished with abscissa extending to the exterior.
The middle abscissa is supported with a half arched brace.
The building was used as a church after the conquest of Istanbul but was converted into a mosque in 1511 by the Visier Grand Hadım Ali Pasha, who later added a school and a alm kitchen next to it.
After the conversion, the mosaics and frescoes were covered, sometimes by wooden blinds and sometimes by whitewashing over them. All the mozaics and frescoes were uncovered with the work carried out by the American Institute of Byzantine Research between 1948 – 1958.