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North Texas Artists in Turkey: Nancy Rebal on the Chora Church

by Anne Bothwell 30 Jul 2010 4:12 PM

Nancy shares her thoughts about one of her favorite stops on our visit to Turkey – the Chora Church in Istanbul.


Guest blogger Nancy Rebal is a Dallas artist. She shares these photos and reflections on the Chora Church , a gorgeous Byzantine church in Istanbul.

The Chora is beautiful.  I imagine there is some deep truth in such a place.   Chora is beautiful.  I pull myself back to look for the universals behind the particulars. Chora is beautiful.  I find harmony throughout. Chora is beautiful.

Chora is the blending of opposites. With a name literally meaning ‘countryside’, it is now nested in the very heart of the city.

From the outside, it is a cluster of domes carrying the largest dome. Or, top to bottom, the large dome gives birth to smaller and smaller versions of itself.  It makes me think of fractals; turtles all the way down.

The frescoes and mosaics inside are elegant and powerful.

The Chora is dedicated equally to Jesus and Mary.  Mary is named the Container of the Uncontainable.  Described in the awkwardly translated guidebook, her story sweetly takes on life.  Here is Joachim “with a sign of grief and pain on his face”.  After she takes her first steps, Mary is “given affection” by her parents. Later she is “seen so sad due to Joseph’s leaving.”  Even later the women of Bethlehem “are seen in a sitting position and they are crying for their children” while “one can see Satan in various positions”.  This feels like a story of real people.

Then, as I look into a high dark vault, I am thrown back into the long-distance frame of reference that complements the exterior’s pile of domes. An image crowns the interior of this Container of the Uncontainable. A single angel, without much expression, hurls through the darkness carrying a huge white snail that is the Cosmos.  In it whirl stars, sun and crescent moon. Fibonacci again.  Harmony.

  • Thank you Nancy and group for sharing; I tasted. smelled, felt, every color that poured from my computer monitor – a thrill for us who travel via desk chair.

  • Fantastic!

  • How beautiful to see The Chora through your eyes, Nancy. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Ashley Cook

    What a wonderful place. Your travels bring me inspiration via the world wide web.

  • Bob Brockus

    Hey Nancy,
    Beautiful pictures. I can only imagine the hours, weeks, and years involved in the production of such an eye catching house of worship.

  • Thank you Nancy, for your usual intensely but playfully observant remarks. I will probably never get there, but now I’ve had a chance to see it. It is wonderful to be introduced to new worlds.

  • Marie Shook

    Thanks Nancy for sharing. Your words really resonate and create a incredible image for those of us who have never seen such a place. I hope to travel more in the future and see ancient churches and cities. It’s very apparent how much art is apart of your soul. I am so happy that you are getting this experience.

  • Amazing. What an incredible experience you must be having! Enjoy!