Inside Hagia Sophia–Istanbul

I have been reading about and seeing images of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul since I was in high school.  Every art history course I have ever taken has made reference to the building.  I knew it was built in 537 AD and that its central dome is a remarkable feat of architectural engineering.  I knew that it had been  first a Christian church then an Islamic Mosque and was now a museum.

When I finally made it to Istanbul  I approached the building feeling quite blasé.  I was sure I knew what to expect.  What I discovered when I stepped inside took me by surprise.

Immediately I was immersed in a dusty, shadowy world redolent with twenty centuries of  religious history in the middle east.  Being inside the building was like being inside some repository, brain or nerve centre that pulsated with the weight of history.


People of many faiths and/or none  flocked together beneath that vast dome without any animosity.

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Wandering around trying to make sense of it all I came across an exhibition of historic Islamic calligraphy framed behind glass.  It was beautiful and I took many photos.   My favourite is this one where a window is reflected in the glass. Like Leonard Cohen sung

There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in



13 thoughts on “Inside Hagia Sophia–Istanbul

  1. From the above comments I can see you felt the energy that resonates even in these photos. I had a few rare experiences of visiting places of worship and places built out of worship that transported me as this building seems to do. You’re so lucky.

    1. It took decades me to get there 🙂 Who knows what’s around the corner. Maybe the chance to visit such places will come to you if it is for your growth. Going on your photos and haiku the place you live in seems to resonate with power of a different kind. I think you are so lucky living there. 🙂

  2. Beautiful quote, and like you I had seen countless images before I walked into this historic gem in person. It’s a wonderful and unique feeling space…..the birthplace of Christianity as we know it today 🙂

    1. It is a powerful place. I’m really glad I had a chance to visit it in person rather than just looking at images. It’s the kind of place you have to experience with your body as well as your mind to get the full impact.

    1. Thanks Amanda. I have just re-discovered the photos as I do my major sort through the archives. I’d forgotten about them.

    1. How fascinating. I’ve been stuck on how to express my experiences overseas (apart from blogging about them). I really enjoyed my visit to your blog and now following it. I’d love to see more of you mosque paintings.

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