Sunday, December 1, 2013

Haiga Sofia - October 19, 2013

Hagia Sofia has been a place of both Christain and Muslim worship for many people throughout the ages.  At present it is a museum. Click here to learn all the fascinating history. 

The outside of the building looks to me like something a child might create with giant brick-colored Legos. Huge, bulky, totally ungraceful are descriptors that come to mind, but that Lego look is recognized by those who know their business as one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture.

In the interior, relics from both Christain and Muslim worship, world-class art, and the complexity of its structure make this building a wonder on many levels.

The following is a sample of the photos I took inside Hagia Sofia from the ground level.

From upstairs, the views were just as impressive.

At one point, this green circle was the spot for the king/emperor to sit while enjoying the religious feasts of his choosing.

The mosaics are incredible. It's hard to imagine the kind of patience it takes to create a pattern with such tiny tiles.

The icon mosaics have been treated in several different ways. This one is partially restored

 This one is less completely restored, but with a small image showing what the original was.

And finally some, like this one, are completely restored.

 This picture shows two of the great medallions that decorate the building. The name of one of the great men of Islamic history is painted on each of the eight medallions.

Back on the ground floor, I found three things of great interest: The marker for Mecca. Knowing it was important for Muslims to align themselves with Mecca for prayer, I couldn't imagine how they would know which direction to face in this round building. Now, I know. Look for the mihrab.

The muezzin's loge. Considering all the singing he does during the day as he calls the faithful to prayer, this special place to rest and meditate was a nice perk!

And the spot for coronation of Turkish kings and emperors.

A word about visiting old buildings: maintenance!  It is forever on-going. At this visit, one entire end of the building was shrouded in scaffolding. Of course, it is distracting, but when you consider the building has roots back to 537 it's not surprising.

All in all, it was a great day for making dreams come true! These two buildings had been on my wish list for a long time.

Now, for the downside. The Grand Bazaar was closed. I was disappointed, but in all honesty, I was so tired by this point, I would not have enjoyed a tour had it been open.

Outside, through the spray of the great fountain, Hagia Sofia had a different look.

And a short while later, as we walked by again, it was beautiful!