I had dreamed of visiting the Hagia Sofia for years, so I felt cold chills when the taxi from the airport happened to drive past it on the way to the hotel. For me, it is maybe the most interesting church (and mosque) in the world.
Thus, it was the first place I went to visit after a well slept night at the hotel. This visit was just one of the things on my list of places I have to see.
Hagia Sofia is actually the third church of the location. The first was built by Constantine already in the 4th century, the second by Theodosius in the 5th century and the present by Justianius in the 6th century. It was the greatest church of Christendom until 1453, when Mehmet the Conqueror conquered Istanbul and converted it into a mosque.
The conversion into a mosque was made with grace, i.e. the church’s mosaics were only covered by paint. That saved them to the present day. Atatürk made Hagia Sofia a museum in 1934. For me it feels like a place where Christendom and Islam lives side by side in peace.
Hagia Sofia has witnessed the crusades, the conquest of Constantinople and many earthquakes. It is one of the most impressive buildings in the world.
A really happy traveller has just made reality of one of his dreams.
The best place for overview pictures is the park between Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque.
The Inner Narthex. On the left in the middle is the Imperial Door.
The Imperial Door was only used by Imperial Processions. The floor is worn on the left and right by the Imperial Guards.
Under the incredible main dome.
The lamps, that remind some people of something… (hey, I didn’t say it!)
The Sultan’s loge (some privacy)
Turning your thumb in the Weeping Pillar is said to cure illnesses, if the thumb gets moist. Mine got moist. I feel good.
The Mosaic of Christ as Pantocrator (9th century).
Halvdan was probably a Viking mercenary of the Imperial Guard, who got bored and made some graffiti in the gallery in the 9th century. It humbles me to think that someone from Scandinavia found his way to Hagia Sofia over a thousand years before me.
Looking over the magnificent Hagia Sofia from the gallery.