Next up during our tour of Istanbul was a visit to Hagia Sophia, which means Holy Wisdom – it started off as a church, then a mosque, but now operates as a museum.
To me, whenever the people of Istanbul talked about any of the major landmarks in the area, they seemed most proud of Hagia Sophia.
It is quite grand and definitely makes a statement, but the Blue Mosque spoke more to me. Maybe because it still operates as a current mosque?
On one side of Hagia Sophia is a mausoleum – where sultans are buried.
We entered from the side of the museum, which was very different looking close up than far away!
I was very excited to see what the inside had to offer!
The side entrance was very unexpected. Our tour guide told us that Hagia Sophia was recently in the running for one of the 7 Wonders of the World – It didn’t make the list, but still pretty cool it was being considered.
The entrance was very dramatic.
The inside was MASSIVE!
It was weird to see symbols from the Christian faith around Hagia Sophia, since it was more recently a mosque than a church. Our tour guide told us that when it was a mosque, these images were covered up in a way that they were preserved, so when it turned into a museum, the original images from the basilica were still in tact.
(see the Virgin Mary in the middle of the picture?)
Here is the Virgin Mary with Jesus again at the Southwestern Entrance of the museum.
The Christian mosaics, such as the two above and the seraphim figure below, were plastered over according to Muslim custom that prohibits the representation of humans. This angel was recently uncovered in 2009!
This booth is where the sultan would sit when he came for the call to prayer. Fancy stuff!
Here I am in front of the mihrab which in every mosque is always pointing towards Mecca.
(I didn’t have to cover up in Hagia Sophia since it is now a museum and no longer a mosque!)
The ceramic tile detail is very impressive. This picture was taking of a vaulted ceiling in a hallway in Hagia Sophia.
It’s really hard to explain just how expansive the interior of the building is – it goes on and on and on!
Fiancé took some video which we will show at the end of all the honeymoon recaps –hopefully you will get a better feel for the space then!
Hagia Sophia was Charles’ favorite spot in Istanbul because it was the largest building in the world for centuries and it still stands. That is most impressive to him!
I think I could have stayed all day in here taking pictures.
But our tour must continue on!
Next up –> a visit to the Grand Bazaar!
What do you think of Hagia Sophia? What is your favorite place I have shared with you so far?