A cold morning in Istanbul, a walk down the Hippodrome, and voila…we were at the Hagia Sofia! It is the epitome of the Byzantine Empire, and is a former orthodox patriachial basilica which was then converted into a mosque (from 1493 to 1932 when Istanbul (Constantinople then) was conquered by the Ottoman Turks who converted into a mosque- long time I know…) and is now a museum.

Walking through its doors, awakened me to the artistic talents of the early ages. Imagine… it was dedicated in 360 and served as a church till 1490.

The first church was an edifice  built as a traditional Latin colonnaded basilica with galleries and a wooden roof. It was claimed to be one of the world’s most outstanding monuments at the time.

The second church, was inaugurated in AD 415. The basilica with a wooden roof was built. However, A fire  burned the second Hagia Sophia to the ground on 13–14 January 532AD.

The original building (the third church), was constructed between 532 and 537. When the Oottoman Turks and emperor MehmedII took it over, the mosaics were plastered over, and the complex is now being restored, but let me not bore you with the specifics.

The pictures speak for themselves….

We finally secured our tickets- what a rush to enter at 9:30 am:):)

At the entrance to the main building. The stone remains of the basilica (the 2nd Church which opened in 415 AD, ordered by Theodosius II.

The mosaic monogram of the Sultan. Just before you walk in to the main entrance!


 One of the first things that caught my eye!

 

Imagine this was covered, then uncovered….

The lower level of the Hagia Sofia- just as you enter the main hall

The marble jar at the entrance.. I’d store wine… but they stored oil!

      So much work must have gone into this…

Restored as much as they could………………

Our lady.. watching over us!


The emperors were coronated here:

Christianity and Islam:


                       A bird’s eye view of the lower(main) level of the Hagia Sofia.

Istanbul from the upper level of the Hagia Sofia.

While we watched tourists from the top!

The Seraphim with six wings… 2 to cover its legs, two to cover its face and two to fly…

Look at the damage done, whilst covering all signs of Christianity. Kudos to the restorers and architects…

The panoramic view from the top was definitely worth the climb! 

I have new respect for all you architects out there… Restoring this beautiful structure must have taken years and years… I’ve enjoyed writing and uploading pics for this post… It’s taken me back to that early Saturday morning in Istanbul!

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