The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul or Ayasofya, as it is known in Turkish, is a former patriarchal basilica, later transformed into a mosque and today a museum in Istanbul. It’s Famous in particular for its massive dome, and it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture. It was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years until 1520.
For almost 500 years the principal mosque of Istanbul, Hagia Sophia served as a model for many of the Ottoman mosques such as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque of Istanbul)
The unique character of the design of Hagia Sophia shows how this structure is one of the most advanced and ambitious monuments of late antiquity. Due to its long history as both a church and a mosque, a particular challenge arises in the restoration process. The Christian iconographic mosaics are being gradually uncovered. However, to do so, important, historical Islamic art would have to be destroyed. Restorers have attempted to maintain a balance between both Christian and Islamic cultures.
In 1935, the first Turkish President and founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, transformed the building into a museum. The carpets were removed, and the marble floor decorations appeared for the first time in centuries.
The building shows that Istanbul is a historic and fascinating city, where the ‘East’ meets the ‘West’ and that there doesn’t have to be a clash of civilizations.
For the preparations of Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture the Hagia Sophia is currently being restorated.
The Hagia Sophia is part of the extensive efforts to preserve thousands of years of history in Istanbul by the 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency.
If you stay in the area, it is a great opportunity to snap some shots of the Hagia Sophia at night.
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