Somewhere in the move between apartments I misplaced my camera. The two of us were not reunited until this weekend–so, finally I can post photos from the rest of our Istanbul trip.
We spent one day of our three-day adventure in the ancient part of town where the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar are located. You don’t have to see every ancient hallowed place in Istanbul, but you can’t leave the city without seeing the Hagia Sophia.
If Istanbul is the gateway between the east and west, then the Hagia Sophia is the gateway between the Christian and Muslim worlds. It is a holy, but non-denominational place. Construction began on the then-Christian basilica in 537 A.D.–built to serve as a Greek Orthodox church and ruling seat for Constantinople. Between 1204 and 1261, the Hagia Sophia converted to a Roman Catholic Church under the Latin empire. After the Ottoman Turks conquered the city in 1453, the Hagia Sophia served as a Muslim Mosque until 1931. Finally in 1935 the Hagia Sophia was secularized and declared a museum, so we can all enjoy its magnificence.
Its ancient–albeit crumbling beauty–can be overwhelming if you are into architecture like I am. It is truly amazing that this building has been through generations of rulers, regimes, religions, plagues, the Crusades, earthquakes and fires. I’m fairly certain it is the oldest structure I’ve ever seen. (Next stop the Egyptian pyramids? We’ll see.)
I hope you are appreciating something historical today…but for now, a few links:
- Top Ten Historical Sites in the World (Nomadic Matt)
- The World’s Most-Visited Ancient Ruins (Travel + Leisure)
- 16 Lesser-Known Ancient Places around the World (Afar)