Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia)

Aya Sofya external
Aya Sofya Wow
Byzantine Mosaics
Astonishment

Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia in Greek) has many names reflecting the varied uses of the building and the history of Istanbul (Byzantine, Ottoman, Christian and Islamic). Visiting Aya Sofya was my favorite experience while in Istanbul. I was struck by the modesty of the interior compared to that of The Blue Mosque. It seemed deeper, darker and more reflective using a lot more natural stone patterns (marble and breccia) and raw materials along the vertical surfaces.

Natural stone walls
Natural stone floor

The more intricate Byzantine mosaics were isolated to the vaults and domes. Large medallions still hung within the vaulted space depicting the names of god (Allah). A small library built by Sultan Mahmut I was lined with intricate Iznik tiles and timber carvings.

Small Library interior with Iznik Tiles
Most of the Ottoman patterns within Aya Sofya were governed by the principles of geometry or used them in combination. There was no attempt to create an illusion of depth (they kept the picture plane flat) allowing the patterns to be intricately complex.
View underneath Minbar from side

The Minbar (or pulpit) for midday Friday Prayer (the main service of the week) used the highly geometric and 16 Point Star motifs assembled from carved elements of teak. Geometry was used within religious and non-religious contexts where the layout of the pattern and proportion of the motifs followed these principles.

Minbar side detail
I had such a strong personal feeling being there. When I was a child I would make découpage covered boxes with images cut from magazines. For one of these boxes I had cut out the medallions and mosaics of Aya Sofya. These memories flowed back to me as I entered Aya Sofya. I was overwhelmed to be in this place after all those years.
Because it is now a Museum I could stay in Aya Sofya for as long I wished. I returned on several occasions: when it was raining; in the late afternoon and on a bright sunny day when light streamed through stained glass windows and illuminated all of its surfaces and materials.
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3 comments
  1. Maz said:

    A Secret…….Beautiful Secrets….. to see….in all of the photos….Meditation..

  2. Alex said:

    Nice one sweetie!
    Great to catch up.

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