Visiting the Haghia Sophia

Trip Start Mar 10, 2011
Trip End Mar 28, 2011

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Where I stayed
Conrad Istanbul Bosphorus
Read my review - 5/5 stars

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 16 (afternoon)

Temperature: 17 degrees
Weather:  cloudy periods                                  

The Haghia Sophia, one of the world's foremost architectural wonders, was the next place we visited and was located right across from the Blue Mosque.   Therefore, we didn’t have very far to walk, mind that I could have walked miles!

Being called the Church of Holy Wisdom or Aya Sofya in Turkish, it used to be a church, an Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque and now a museum since 1934.  This impressive gigantic building stood firm today despite countless wars and earthquakes.  It was built in 537 AD. 

Its exterior deep red walls had a soaring dome of 101 feet in diameter which rose 183 feet from the ground.  Now that I knew the building’s total height, I also knew that it was higher than the Blue Mosque!  Interesting fact!  It was quite a stunning building to admire! 

Stepping inside, we kept our shoes on this time, several scenes were painted on the walls and ceilings one of them being the Virgin Mary holding the Infant Christ whereas others, Islamic elements.   Interestingly, when the church was converted to a mosque, the church’s mosaics like the Virgin Mary and many more were all plastered over only to be discovered in the 1930s. 

In a corner stood a huge marble urn which from reading the sign, I learned that it was carved from a single block of marble and was brought here from Pergamum in the 16th century!  Pergamum, remember the name of this ancient city….I’ve been there on day 14 of my tour!
The urn was stunning!

Looking all around me, the vast interior of the Haghia Sophia had a very complex structure ranging from several arched openings extended by half domes to numerous columns on each side of the nave, this being the main body.  It also had an upper gallery which is the direction Michel and I took once Daghan gave us time to wander around.

In order to reach the upper gallery, we had to walk in a passage that resembled a tunnel more than anything else due to its darkness and thick brick walls.  It wasn’t a stair case with steps; it was simply an inclined passageway that eventually brought us higher and higher.  After all, this was an ancient building dating more than 1500 years ago! 

From the upper gallery, the view below was absolutely beautiful.  Being higher, we could appreciate more the details of the columns, arches and wall paintings.   It made our little trip up here through the dark tunnel called passageway all worthwhile!

Monique   :-)
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