Wednesday, August 8, 2018

From Basilica to Mosque to Museum

Without doubt the Hagia Sophia - Ayasofya in Turkish - is the most famous building in Istanbul. "Hagia Sophia" comes from the Greek and means "Holy Wisdom". Built in 537 AD during the Byzantine Empire it is also one of the oldest buildings in the city. It started out as a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal basilica, was later converted into an Ottoman mosque and has served as a museum since 1935 when it was secularized. (Warning: this is a very photo-heavy post)

We visited the Hagia Sophia on our second day in Istanbul, after we had seen the Blue Mosque - just across from the Ayasofya - the day before. I'm glad that we did it in this sequence, because this basilica converted mosque converted museum pretty much blew me away.

The interior with its famous dome and huge nave holds a serenity that couldn't even be disturbed by the many people who came here. I felt very small when I entered and was immediately fascinated by the many chandeliers that cast a warm light into the interior.

But before we ventured further we walked up the switchback ramp to the upstairs galleries. I loved the worn stone slabs shining with age.

Both the downstairs narthex and the galleries have beautiful ceilings, and everywhere you can notice the age of the building. Restoration work is continuously going on here. And look at those gorgeous columns!


But the crème de la crème are the mosaics.

They simply took my breath away. I will spare you my raving over them and just post pictures of them, leaving them to your own judgment. And if you're not into mosaics, just scroll down.

Let's look up one more time and then go down again at the end of the gallery.

While I loved the mosaics and spent a very long time on the galleries, my favorite feature of the Ayasofya was downstairs - the chandeliers. They were added during the Ottoman Empire. Pure eye candy and I was drooling over (well, under) them.

Eventually - reluctantly - we left; but there are so many beautiful things to discover outside as well.

Of course we can't forget the Ayasofya cats... this is just one of them.

It is beautiful at night as well, especially with the blue fountain in the foreground.

We just had to climb up to the roof terrace of our hotel to see the beauty of it.


Sarah Huizenga said...

Amazing! The vast spaces always take my breath away. I can't even imagine the upkeep on buildings that old.

windrock studio said...

Oh, my goodness! So much beauty to take in, I know how thrilled you must be to have had this experience and these memories ... thank you for sharing.

Elephant's Child said...

As I scrolled down I envied you. As I do my partner for his trips to that amazing monument.
Can you imagine any of our modern buildings standing the test of time so well? In both construction and beauty.

My name is Erika. said...

What an a amazing building. This post might be photo heavy but they were worth viewing.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

Breathtakingly beautiful! So many details that our eyes can't focus on them all. Would be amazing to see in person! Thanks for sharing the photos. Hugs!

Linda d said...

Incredible pictures Carola but for some reason picture #3 took my breath away. I want to go there!

Red Rose Alley said...

I really enjoyed your photos of Istanbul, Carola. I love that stone walkway with the light shining in. My favorite was the photos of Mary and Jesus. Those are cool pictures of the chandeliers, and how grand they are. The blue fountain is beautiful at night. This may be the closest I ever get to see Istanbul, so thank you for taking me along.


Magic Love Crow said...

Wow, Wow, Wow!!! Breath taking! Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us! I find it amazing! Big Hugs!

Sue (this n that) said...

The architecture is astounding. I'm in awe Carola. Again, the mosaics are incredible.
Love the chandeliers... another wonderful post, full of delightful visual detail and, most especially, your commentary. Thank you :D) xx

Jeanie said...

What a fascinating and beautiful place! The architecture is dazzling and oh, the countless hours to create each of those intricate mosaics. Your photos are just wonderful -- I don't think you left a detail behind (and thank you for that!). Quite remarkable!