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Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)

The Hagia Sophia is not only top tourist attraction in Istanbul, it is also oldest, biggest and one of the most important religious structures on the planet. The cathedral was built in the 6th century (532–537) under the direction of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. by general consensus. This church nearly 1500 years in age, was once the center of Byzantine faith, later is set to become a mosque of the Ottoman Empire, and now it is one of the most popular museums with its unique history.

There’s a lot to see inside from the top to the bottom. This is the kind of place when even the floors, doors and walls have stories to tell. These mosaics have survived the centuries in hard conditions but they were protected during Ottoman rule and they are still breathe taking.

When you enter the museum, it feels like you travel back in time and wonder how many emperors and sultans have probably stood exactly where you’re standing right now. Christian or Muslim, it doesn’t make any difference to admire its fascinating architecture, it holds you from the second you step inside.

The Emperor Door is the largest door of Hagia Sophia, which was used by Byzantine emperors. It is 7 meters in length and made of oak, some East-Roman references says the door could be made of the woods of Noah’s ark. It had been used only by the Emperor and his companions.

The Omphalion is a group of circular marble slabs fitted into a design on the main floor where Byzantine Emperor were crowned. It means “centre of the world” in Greek.  It was built with “opus sectile” technique which is an art technique popularized in the ancient and medieval Roman world.

The upper gallery houses Hagia Sophia’s most impressive mosaics, among them that of Empress Zoe, an 11thcentury Byzantine. You can see the Jesus Christ is sitting on a throne and wearing a dark blue robe, blessing with his right hand, and holding the bible with his left hand. Empress Zoe is standing on his left, offering a scroll that symbolizes her donations.The face of her consort is believed to have changed three times according to her two previous husbands. Now is the face of her final spouse Constantine IX Monomachus.

Hagia Sophia’s greatest architectural legacy is its significant dome. You will be surprised when you see it, it is not seem like any other dome that you could ever see at the other mosques.

Hagia Sophia carries the traces of  Ottoman and Byzantine Empires. This is what makes it hauntingly beautiful. You can see the both Islam and Christian marks at the museum. The Ottoman Sultans didn’t break the mosaic boards and respected their artistic beauties and covered them only with whitewash because they were contradictions pictures for Islam.

Hagia sophia is a unique place that you cannot find its similar around the world. It is located at the centre of the Sultanahmet and offer you an unforgettable moments. We recommend you to visit this outstanding place before you left the city.

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