I don’t remember a lot 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, tt 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.
It was a Christian cathedral for 1000 years and then 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. These 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.
You reach the second floor by way of a ramp because Sultans were carried by servants and presumably a ramp is easier than stairs
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 has lost most of it’s feelings of warmth and 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.