Aya Sofya

May 28, 2014 - Atlanta, Georgia, United States

When people think of Istanbul, the Aya Sofya is often the first thing that comes to mind.  It has many names and spellings - Hagia Sophia, Sancta Sophia, Church of the Divine Wisdom – and has served as a church, a mosque and a museum in its 1477 year history.

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The church was constructed by the Emperor Justinian who is one of the most famous Byzantine Emperors. He was married to Theodora who who became  one of the most powerful women in history.  The Aya Sofya became the center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity for centuries.  For the super nerds, you should check out this podcast about the Byzantine emperors: http://12byzantinerulers.com  I listened to it several years ago and really liked it.

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The complex isn’t much to look at from the outside, but the inside is truly breathtaking!   I wish I  could have seen it a thousand years ago.  The church had many beautiful mosaics depicting  people, but those were plastered over when the building became a mosque in 1453 after the Ottomans took over the city.

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This door used to have a cross on it, but the Ottomans changed it

Hagia Sofia Door

After Ataturk declared the Aya Sofya a museum in 1935, renovations started to reveal the mosaics under the plaster, they are still very shiny (thanks to the glass and gold!) and beautiful.

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The whole time I was at the Aya Sofya I  could feel the energy of the history that had happened around me.  I know it sounds crazy, but I’m so glad to have experienced such an important place.  Ask me about it when you see me and I will talk your ear off :-).  I wish I could have spent more time there and I hope to go back someday.

I could go on for pages and pages about the Aya Sofya, but I know that most of you are more interested in all the food that I ate on the trip, that post is coming up next.

1 Comment

May 29, 2014
Wow. It's absolutely beautiful! And I'm sure the pictures don't even do it justice. I'm sure it's much more amazing in person.
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