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Published: April 19th 2008
From near the Blue Mosque
I just noticed- You need to click on the numbers at the bottom in order to see all 90 yes 90 photos Bill attached. The Hagia Sophia was one of the historic sites that we definitely wanted to see during our stay in Istanbul. Fortunately, on Thursday evening, the desk clerk at our hotel told us that if we wanted to see this ancient church we should do so on Friday because the church is closed on Mondays. We had most of Friday to tour Istanbut as our plane to Cappadocia did not leave Istanbul until a little after five in the evening.
After breakfast on Friday morning, we headed up the hill where we did a quick tour of the Blue Mosque courtyard and then headed for the huge church/mosque/museum. The Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia are about two hundred yards apart on a hill overlooking the ocean. Both are impressive structures and even though much older, the Hagia Sophia is larger. The current structure was built in the 6th century and was a Christian church for 1100 years before being turned into a mosque with four minarets added. Fortunately
Tile beside the main entrace
the beautiful Christian mosaics were not destroyed but merely covered with plaster. The plaster has now been removed and both Christian and Islamic decorations of the structure are visible. Work is still being done on restoring the building to it's former glory. Outside the building are things like statues of lambs or sheep representing the apostles which are broken off and laying on the ground awaiting future reconstruction work. the Sophia is the 3rd church built on this site. The first two burned.
All-in-all we spent between two and a half to three hours walking slowly through the church. Tourists are allowed on two levels and both are well worth seeing. A dimly lit spiral ramp gives access to the upper level. How many thousands upon thousands of people have walked this incline in the last 1500 years? The stones which pave the ramp are well worn showing the effects of thousands if not millions of feet.
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