“If one had but a single glance to give the world,
one should gaze on Istanbul.”
Alphonse de Lamartine
When I entered Hagia Sophia “Holy Wisdom” I got a feeling that building was … like a tired very beautiful old lady (maybe a bit like myself) that are still going strong. Major restoration is ongoing just now inside. Today called by the Turks – Ayasofya Museum. Entrance fee 40TRY and I think it was well worth the money and they need every penny of it to make this fantastic landmark stand in its glory. This building needs a lot of tender, love and care for all future. Money that I gladly parted from.
I gave my Tuesday to Hagia Sophia, a quite bitter day with wind and rain hanging in the air … it arrived was I walked back to my hotel.
Noticed that at night less of the major mosques wasn’t lite up as normal .. and in daylight, I notice they were all covered up for restoration. Also, my favourite house, the yellow … the tourist police station at Yerebatan Caddesi street is now getting total restorations by the government. A female suicide bomber blew herself up at this police station in January 2015.
Hagia Sophia was built in 500 as a Christian church and today a museum, totally in marble inside … and very worn. At the same time, we here in Sweden was living in caves and hit each other over the head with sticks. It just amazes me how far advance some other cultures compared to ours.
Personal I think Hagia Sophia is more impressive on the outside than the Blue Mosque. An absolute stunning building both day and night. It was also, the inspiration for the Blue Mosque.
Designers; Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles
Christian Church Cathedral (537–1054)
Greek Orthodox Cathedral (1054–1204)
Roman Catholic Cathedral (1204–1261)
Greek Orthodox Cathedral (1261–1453)
Imperial Mosque (1453–1931)
More than it’s so impressive inside and build in marble … I found the ageing and jaded so beautiful.
The church was richly decorated with mosaics throughout the centuries. They either depicted the Virgin Mother, Jesus, saints, or emperors and empresses. Other parts were decorated in a purely decorative style with geometric patterns. The mosaics however for their most part date to after the end of the Byzantine Iconoclasm of 800 AD.
And instead of stairs up to the galleries they had made a ramp …. in 600’s, very clever. The stones were so worn and that it very slippery to walk upwards. Going down a new ramp is made and safer.
The marble Lustration urn, the enormous urn around 2 metres high, is one of a matching pair carved from single blocks of marble during the Hellenistic period. They were taken from Pergamon to Istanbul during the reign of Sultan Murad III (1546-1595, ruled 1574-1595) and placed at either side of the entrance to the nave of the Hagia Sophia. I only saw one – I think the other was hidden behind the restoration covering.
And the marble door up in the Southern gallery, it is probably removed from another Greek building and was brought to Hagia Sophia. The marble door was used by synod members to enter and exit to the meeting chamber.
And the 3 amazing Mosaic murals from 1100-1300’s – one had nearly lost all its Mosaic pieces and it looked like they were going to restore it.
Mahmut I’s Library – located in the on the ground floor .. captured me too. So beautiful. Half of the walls decorated with marble and half top with tiles and the library’s front side has six columns, and in between, there are bronze grills that close the interior.
From the Galleries there is a view over to the other side the Bosphorus … and the contrasts are hug between from I was standing to Istanbul of today and still they melt so great together.
There is so much information about Hagia Sophia …. but I leave that up to the professionals and all other websites that carry more information than I will be able to collect.
There were some last roses of the summer of 2016 … as I left the “Holy Wisdom”