Inferno, the latest novel by Dan Brown, the author of worldwide best-seller “The Da Vinci Code”, is now on the shelves in a simultaneous release in 12 different countries, including Turkey. The final section of the book takes place in Istanbul and is expected to result in a surge of tourists for Istanbul’s historic Hagia Sophia.
“Inferno” features the return of renowned Harvard symbologist and “Da Vinci Code” protagonist Robert Langdon, and is set in Italy and Turkey, centering on the literary masterpiece “Dante’s Inferno.” It will have a first printing of 4 million copies.
Brown’s mystery novel “The Da Vinci Code,” riddled with codes, keys, conspiracies and other puzzling symbols, was published in 2003 and was made into a hit film starring Tom Hanks. It spent more than a year atop the New York Times bestseller list. The book greatly influenced an influx of tourism to the historic sights the story was based in and the author’s new highly anticipated release is anticipated to do the same for the Istanbul locations where the story unravels.
“Inferno” begins in Italy’s Florence, then moves on to Sienna and ends in Istanbul, with approximately 100 pages devoted to ancient sites in Sultanahmet including Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern, the Galata Tower and the Grand Bazaar.
World-renowned writer Brown visited Istanbul in December of 2009, as part of the 50th anniversary of the Altın Kitaplar publishing company, which holds the Turkey rights to Brown’s books.
He spent four days in the city, and spent most of his time around Hagia Sophia in the historic Sultanahmet district, one of the main location drops of his Inferno.
The dome and minarets of Hagia Sophia are the symbols of Istanbul. This is the only building in the world to have served as a Catholic Cathedral and as the seat of two religions, Greek Orthodox Christianity and Sunni Islam.
Brown has quoted a brief paragraph from a Hürriyet Daily news article on Göksel Gülensoy, who had accessed the tunnels underneath the Hagia Sophia in 2009.
With unprecedented access to underground tunnels and reservoirs that permeate the earth around Hagia Sophia, filmmaker Göksel Gülensoy discovered the history of the tunnels and made a documentary about his findings. In the film he explores spaces untouched by man for centuries.
Brown said: “I believe what is beneath Hagia Sophia is much more exciting than above the surface,” he said. “I want to follow the traces of the two rooms under the abscissa for my third film.
The room believed to be the place where the first priest of Hagia Sophia was buried with his belongings has not been thoroughly searched before.”
Ever since the novel’s release, Istanbul’s appeal and draw to the writer has been mentioned regularly in the world press. A review in The Guardian points out that the novel is expected to increase tourism figures in Florence and Istanbul and writes that local authorities in Florence are expecting to see at least a ten percent rise as a result of the book’s release.
Hagia Sophia Museum Director Hayrullah Cengiz points out that after the release of “Da Vinci Code” the number of visitors to the Louvre Museum increased by ten million and says that they are therefore expecting the book to also result in a rise in visitors to Hagia Sophia.
Last year, Hagia Sophia had 3.250 million visitors, making it the highest visited museum in the country. Cengiz explains that they have experienced a 25 percent rise in the first five months of the year compared to the year prior and says that with the influence of this book, they may be looking at record numbers.