I don’t remember much of my history lessons from high school but I do remember reading about the Hagia Sofia.
Largest dome in the world for hundreds of years, an engineering architectural marvel that collapsed several times and had to be rebuilt, it was my first stop in Istanbul.
I love these marble floors, grooved and worn from almost two thousand years worth of people walking over them
And these low flat chandelier light fixtures that were once oil lamps and now are electric.
The dome is almost impossible to photograph because of the height and the scope.
Here you can at least see the scale, and the scaffolding that covered half the main floor.
Hagia Sofia was a Christian cathedral for 1000 years. In 1453 when the Ottomans took over, they converted the Hagia Sofia into a mosque. They removed all the figurative art – in accordance with Islamic law – and plastered over any mosaics of people. The giant discs are made of wood and leather and have the names of Islamic prophets and caliphs.
Any statuary is gone for good but you can see the restoration efforts are attempting to remove the plaster and reveal the mosaics in the domes.
We walked up to the second floor by way of a ramp instead of stairs because Sultans never walked anywhere. Even in church they were carried by servants.
The arches in the top gallery are kind of incredible.
As is the view
I found the Hagia Sofia to be quite beautiful although it felt empty. It’s been a museum since 1934 so it’s lost any feelings of warmth or human interaction. It’s also under a lot of construction for restoration and parts of it are quite dilapidated. I’d be very interested to see what it looks like if they can restore the paintings and some of mosaics.
I’m glad I saw it. Such an important building in the history of the world.