Aya Sofya (Turkish) – Church of holy Wisdom is a former Greek orthodox Church, later a Mosque and now a Museum. This is acknowledged as one of the greatest buildings in history. This is a fascinating place and there’s lot to see. I nearly spend half a day there, I believe anything you see there has a story to tell.
This church was built on the first hill of the 7 hills in Istanbul. Hagia Sophia has witnessed a lot of events. The First church was burnt down which no longer stands today and Second church was burnt to the ground during the Nika revolt and its believed to be one of the bloodiest revolts and the Third church (the present one) has been hit by earthquakes and in 1453 Constantinople was taken by the Ottomans and the church was turned into a Mosque. The Ottomans didn’t change the interior nor the name, they just white washed the mosaics. So, literally they protected the Hagia Sophia.
We see an interesting thing when we look at the Mihrab we see the mosaic of Mother Mary holding Jesus on her lap is marvelous and the guardian angels Gabriel and Michael on either side of the upper gallery.
We can see a frame written in Arabic I guess. Christianity and Islam symbols are very rarely seen together anywhere in the world and for me this is the real meaning of ‘East meets West’. From this we can understand the Ottomans were religious tolerant and respected other religions, they never broke the mosaics nor tried to bring down the church, they just white washed the church to have a mosque.
There is a column bronze plated and is moist. It is believed if one touches the moisture it may cure him/her of any diseases.
When you stand in the middle and look at the massive dome, you wonder how many emperors and sultans have stood here seeing this amazing place and this place is certainly unforgettable.
In 1935 the mosque was turned into a Museum by Ataturk. This place stands very near to the Blue Mosque and open from 9 am -4.30 pm. Entry Fee – 25 TL.
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