Monday, April 01, 2013

April 2013 Travel Photo: Interior of Hagia Sophia Church/Mosque/Museum

Photo by co-worker "Horsegauze"
Hagia Sophia, literally meaning Holy Wisdom, was first built in 537 in the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.  In the empire it served as a church for the united Catholic-Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Latin Catholic, and the reunited Greek Catholic-Orthodox Churches.  In 1451 it was turned from a Catholic-Orthodox church into a Sunni Muslim mosque when the Ottomans seized Constantinople and made it their capital.   When the city fell Hagia Sophia was the largest church in the world.

As a mosque Hagia Sophia served as the religious capitol of the empire and main mosque of the emperor-caliph.  It lasted as a mosque for over 450 years until the fall of the Ottoman Empire and its replacement with the secular national socialist Republic of Turkey.  The government turned the mosque into a museum which it remains today.

Inside one can see Islamic surrounded by Christian mosaics.  The area with in the far background has a Christian altar table with altar candles in front of a Islamic mihrab. This dichotomy is an excellent physical example of east meeting west in Istanbul, Turkey which itself is divided in two between a western bank in Europe and an eastern bank in Asia.

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