Burnt, ransacked, shaken. The Hagia Sophia stands as a stoic symbol of survival in a world fraught with differences.

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.

        

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About shabnamphoto

I'm a photography junkie besides being a restless mother to two beautiful daughters. I live in the chaotic city of Mumbai. In case you happen to be in this city of slums and splendor, keep an eye out for me. I will, in all probability be that enraged pedestrian hollering at some apathetic honker in a traffic snarl.
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7 Responses to Burnt, ransacked, shaken. The Hagia Sophia stands as a stoic symbol of survival in a world fraught with differences.

  1. friendlytm says:

    We went there last year too. Take a look at link photography , one of my blogs. I only posted the highlights on that blog. I do have details in shutterfly site. Yours are great!

  2. “bloodied years” and the “howls of a thousand rebellions” – I was hooked before ever I set eyes on your photographs. What a way to shoot a treasure!

  3. Pingback: The Fall of Constantinople | The Good News

  4. shabnamphoto says:

    Thanks poppeye, don’t think that scaffolding will come down soon…the monument is strapped for funds to keep the repair work going…

  5. happypoppeye says:

    Some good pics up there …and I see the scaffolding is still up (see forums meassage).

    Honestly, in my opinion, it is a church, a mosque, a fortress, and everything else…

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