Saturday, September 19, 2009

Haghia Sophia (Istanbul)

We continued our sightseeing in Istanbul. We walked to the most famous building in Istanbul. The marvelous Haghia Sophia. I will not go into much detail about the history of this magnificent church/ mosque. You can click on to:

You will learn everything you will need to learn about Haghia Sophia.

The history alone of the Haghia Sophia is very interesting. It was first built as the largest building and church in the world. Then when the Ottoman's conquered, they turned it into a mosque. I am still amazed how this building was build so long ago.

Another unique aspect of this mosque is that after the Ottoman's conquered, they kept the images of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ and other Saints. I thought this was very strange.

There were a lot of Christians as tourist when we were visiting. Apparently, the Christians still consider this a 'Christian' building. They cannot accept that the Ottoman's took it over. There was even an incident that I could not believe happened.

An elderly couple arrived at the front of the giant alter where the image of the Virgin Mary is. The old man knelt down and started praying. One of the security guards immediately rushed toward the gentleman and told him to get up. Praying was not allowed because this was not a religious place but a museum. The gentleman would not listen to the security guard and kept praying. So the security guard physically forced/ helped the gentleman to stand up. The gentleman told the security guard that he wanted to pray but the security guard did not understand English so he asked a Turkish tour guide to explain to the elderly man. The elderly couple were not happy and the security guard was not happy.

What I could not believe was the nerve of the elderly couple. They knew the history of the Haghia Sophia, they knew that it was a mosque and they are in a Muslim country. I thought it was simply rude.

Here is an amazing mosaic of Jesus Christ.

Once considered the largest building in the world. I still consider it gigantic.

Mosaic of Saints and Angels.

The exterior of the Haghia Sophia is not as grande as the other mosque in Istanbul. But, the creators of the Haghia Sophia had a different idea. They wanted the opulence to be in the interior. And, it sure is.

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