The Hagia Sophia is neither a church nor a mosque. As I learnt upon arrival, it’s a museum. As a student, we had to study this monument and its influence on Christian art. I had a faint memory of more than 25 years ago and remembered it as a grand church of the Byzantines. That during Ataturk’s times it was converted into a museum was not something I kept track of.
From the outside the Aya Sophia appears to be a complex pastiche of architectural styles. Built over, torn down and restructured several times during its 1600 bloodied years of history, it’s in a feeble state of disrepair right now. Somewhere you can see scaffolding hanging, elsewhere, large construction grids that give it a sci-fi spaceship like feel. Some architects believe that so weak is the structure, that one single tremor from an earthquake could bring the whole thing tumbling down. The last one a couple of years ago, ended up destabilizing the dome.
Facets of its former glory are visible in the distressed frescoes and grand mosaics on the walls, but its dank inner spaces also seemed to contain the howls of a thousand rebellions. Gazing at the ghostly monument inside, it’s easy to see how this glorious landmark entwines the legacies of medieval Christianity, the Ottoman Empire, resurgent Islam and modern secular Turkey in one tight knot. Modern day calligraphic signs (Allah) hang on the ancient Corinthian columns. As I gathered from the information posters outside, the original Basilica made its appearance in 330 A.D under Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire. Today’s version was created by Emperor Justinian as a symbol of Byzantium architecture. The minarets were added later by the Ottomans when ‘Mahmet the terrible’ conquered Constantinople from the Byzantines and declared it a Mosque. Thats when the name changed from Hagia Sophia (Holy wisdom) to the turkish version Aya Sophia.
The set of pictures here are my postcards from the visit there and my way of wishing my friends a Happy Easter and Good Friday.
I'm a graphic artist with a passion for photography. I like to tell a story with my pictures. Sometimes a picture may speak on its own and at other times it may need an explanation. I'm intrigued by the ordinariness of life and enjoy documenting my life in the light and shadow of what surrounds me. Be it people, landscape, flowers, architecture or birds, the camera helps me see what I wouldn't with my naked eye.
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