Another "must-see" in Istanbul, the Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia in Greek).
The unassuming exterior.
The Aya Sofya looks quite small and, frankly, quite dull from the outside. But inside...
People, people, people everywhere.
I don't know how that "tiny" structure outside could house this interior!
In a nutshell, work on the present structure began around 532 A.D. and there were numerous instances of damage and periods of reconstruction.
It was the largest basilica in the world for around a millenium and had quite an architectural influence.
Originally built as an Eastern Orthodox church, it was later converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral, then to a mosque.
Carpets once covered the marble floors.
Its interior reflects this complicated history.
Various types of mosaics reflecting different periods adorn the interior surfaces, with some having been painted or plastered over. The mosaics have been or are being restored.
Giant medallions inscribed with Islamic calligraphy hang on columns.
Apparently, there used to be much more scaffolding around in previous years.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, "father" of the Republic of Turkey, transformed the site into a museum in 1935.
That's as small a nutshell as I could manage.
Hmm, this is just... um, not "pleasing to the eye".
A copy of a record of decisions passed by a general synod (a regular supreme religious assembly) that was held at Hagia Sophia in 1166.
Şadırvan, a fountain for ritual ablutions.
Nobody seemed to be taking notice of this structure.
But, it's nice, no?
Coincidentally enough, I chanced about Martha Stewart's Istanbul Show videos on her website! There's a short description, as well as a video of her visit.
Martha Stewart: The History of Hagia Sophia
For more information:
Turkey Travel Planner: Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia)
eatingclub vancouver in Turkey (September 2010)
Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) (Istanbul, Turkey)
Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) (Istanbul, Turkey)
Topkapı Sarayı (Palace) Museum (Istanbul, Turkey)
Hierapolis Ruins and Travertines (Pamukkale, Turkey)
Güray Pottery (Avanos, Turkey)
For Turkish dishes:
Turkey (the country, not the fowl)
Turkish Çay (Tea)