Monday, April 11, 2011

Touring Turkey - The Aya Sophia



One of the most visited (and rightfully so) monuments in Istanbul is the Aya Sophia. Built in 361, the structures served as the primary cathedral for Constantinople (Istanbul's former name) and was a Christian church until 1453. At that time it became a mosque. Churches becoming mosques is a pretty big theme in Turkey. For over 1,000 years it was the largest cathedral in the world (until 1520). In the early 1930's, the Aya Sophia was converted into a museum and open to the general public.

What did I think of it? Wow..just wow!

Aya Sophia, interior

What's most impressive is that this building is virtually ancient, yet there are some many visible details that are still in such great condition. It makes me wonder if any of the things we build now will be as beautiful, or even in existence, just 100 years from now.

There were many designs like these hanging throughout the building. Any Arabic speakers out there? I would love to know what this means.


I will say that the Aya Sophia monument/museum, or whatever you'd like to call it, does an excellent job of educating people about the various elements within a mosque. Mosques come in all shapes and sizes but have some common elements. Here are a few below:

Minbar - where the imam delivers his sermons. Similar function to a pulpit in a church


Muezzin's Loge - The muezzin is tasked with delivering the prayer call summoning worshippers to one of five daily prayer sessions.


One of the prettiest elements of the church/mosque were the detailed mosaics.
Left: Virgin Mary & Child, Right: Jesus


After a while it was time to go to the upper level to get a better view.
There were no stairs or elevators but rather a passageway made of stones that were often pretty slippery. That's Husband J walking ahead.


Aya Sophia upper level


I realized that I have posted no pictures of me. See, I actually did go to the Aya Sophia. :)


A view of the main floor from the top

I love old places with history and lots of nook and crannies. The Aya Sophia is definitely among the most fascinating buildings I've explored.


4 comments:

melinda said...

Wow! What an amazing history of the building! I can't quite make out the calligraphy, it's still hard for a newbie like me to make out when the letters are typed out. Hopefully someone else can help!

Oneika said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oneika said...

Very nice pics and you look so pretty!! Great minds think alike because I JUST made a video of my trip to Istanbul, check it out!!

http://oneika-the-traveller.blogspot.com/2011/04/my-trip-to-istanbul-in-moving-pictures.html

Diana said...

What an amazing site to see. The history, the architecture, it must have been a great feeling to be there. Love the picture of you! It looks like it must have been cold when you went?

 

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