Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Turkey 4: Istanbul - Hagia Sofya

Aya Sofya is Istanbul's most famous monument, according to the Lonely Planet.

Built over the ruins of two previous churches in 537 by the Roman Emperor Justinian, it was considered the greatest church in Christendom until 1453.

One can see the series of huge domes that make up the ceiling.  Mehmet, who conquered then Constantinople in 1453 turned the building into a mosque.

However, he did not deface mosaics on the upper level that portrayed Christian iconography.

The building remained a mosque until 1935, when Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, proclaimed it a museum.

Still, for almost 500 years, according to Wikipedia, it was used as a model for many other Ottoman mosques, including the Blue Mosque, seen previously.  Here, I liked the view of domed rooftops out of an upper level window.

The upper level, shown here, from which the first photo in this post was taken, runs completely around the main floor.

Look closely at the middle left side of the third photo in this post, and you will see a row of columns, partially obscured by lights, whose tops look like this.  Those columns support the upper level.

The upper level had a series of displays.  In one glass enclosed case, I found a model of what the copper column, shown in a previous post, originally looked like.

This covered area runs along the front of the building.  I included the people here for a sense of scale, to give you an idea of how big this place is.  On the other hand, sometimes, it's the little things that impress. 

I had to stop and wonder what it must be like for these paving stones to have had people walking over them for fifteen hundred years.

This would be an impressive monument if it were built today.  However, to think that it was conceived, engineered and constructed in the 6th century with what we now consider to be primitive technology, both boggles my mind, and gives me a huge appreciation for ancient builders.

Outside Hagia Sofya, food venders were doing a brisk business on the hot day we were there.  We did not purchase any from this young man, however, we enjoyed sweet, ripe watermelon nearly every day while in Turkey.

This man is roasting chestnuts. We enjoyed a wide variety of marvelous food everywhere we visited.

Continue on to Post 5: Troy, by clicking here.


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