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Sunday
Aug072011

Hagia Sophia

I'm finally getting round to looking again at my Istanbul collection.  This series is of the truly amazing Hagia Sophia which was the highlight of our trip.  Everything about it is interesting: its age, its history, the beautiful Byzantine architecture, its size, its location, its 'mixed' uses over time and that magnificent dome.  It's impressive, even with today's engineering know-how, how the dome is supported without columns growing out of the ground and disrupting the fantastic view that fills your eyes as you enter.  Hagia Sophia captures you the moment you walk in, you will not be able to register everything at once.  Appreciating the intricate details in the decorations, the mosaics that survived centuries and the sheer size of the place, requires time.

I love how it sits comfortably in a city that has grown around it.  We walked by it every day but visited it toward the end of our trip.  We spent nearly two hours inside looking at every detail from many angles.  The view from upstairs brought a realisation of scale that impressed us even more. 

I had never been in a mosque which still preserved so much of the Christian history.  Hundreds of years of five daily prayers in a muslim house-of-worship with images of the Virgin Mary and Christ.  Having seen the place for myself, I really wish it wasn't turned into a museum.  I understand it (and benefited from it being able to visit!), but -in my opinion - a small area inside could have discretely, and tastefully, remained a space for prayer.  With such a long history of worship to a common God, it seems such a shame to have stopped altogether.  

I'll leave you with images from the impressive interior.  I could spend days here... just looking... and then looking some more.  It's a real feast that I simply cannot describe.  I'm therefore going to stop right here.  I'll let you do some looking of your own.

Reader Comments (5)

I've paid a visit to the Hagia Sofia last year, but a scaffold made it difficult to study many of the rich details, which are clearly visible on your beautiful photos.
Thanks for sharing!

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarcel

Wow! its so amazingly beautiful! And its heartening to see how the structure and the exquisite work has been safeguarded and revered through the ages despite the changes in terms of place of worship. Its amazing to see both the Islamic and Christian influences co-exist so beautifully. That is rare I guess, or maybe not! So much steeped in history.

August 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteronlooker

Fantastic pictures! I went to Istanbul almost 13 or 15 years ago now and I still remember it fondly! I remember going into Hagia Sophia and being amazed by its beauty and design! So rich in history in every corner! Fantastic!

Great pictures as usual!

August 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarzouq

Marcel
You're very welcome. Thank you for your visit.

onlooker
It is rare to see the combination - and even more rare to see such a preserved building in an 'Eastern' country. I'm impressed at what the Turkish people have done to present their culture.

Marzouq
Thank you. My wife and kids were very patient so I took my time :)

August 13, 2011 | Registered CommenterBuYousef

I visited Turkey this summer and unfortunately did not make it to the Hagia Sofia due to how crowded it was (and the fact that we were there for only 2 days)... thanks for bringing it to life through your wonderful work!

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterelwehbi

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