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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hagia Sophia

 I love the Hagia Sophia. I might have cried both times I've seen it.

The Hagia Sophia (also known as the Church of Holy Wisdom or the Aya Sophia) is one of the most breathtaking structures in the entire world. However, the current building is actually the third incarnation of the church-turned-mosque-turned-museum as the first two were both destroyed during ancient riots.

A lonely remnant of the second church. The sheep represent the 12 Apostles.

The Nika riot of 532 A.D. burned down much of the city of Constantinople (including the Hagia Sophia, Senate, and part of the imperial palace) and resulted in the deaths of 30,000 rebels who wanted to replace Justinian as emperor. After a rousing speech by Theodora (more on that later), Justinian's side won, but his capital was left in ruins. On the bright side, the destruction allowed Justinian and Theodora to rebuild the Hagia Sophia on a much grander scale. 

The central part of the massive interior. Those are people at the bottom, not ants.

Justinian managed to finish his new church in only five years, including the massive dome that was the envy of the world. (Never mind that it collapsed 21 years later and had to be rebuilt). He also filled the interior with marble pillars gathered from the corners of the ancient world and a treasury worth of glittering mosaics.

 A pillar with Theodora or Justinian's monogram. In keeping with their religious beliefs, the Muslims later covered the face of the seraphim in the background, but one has recently been uncovered. 

 Justinian offering the Hagia Sophia and Constantine giving the city of Constantinople to the Virgin and Child.

Standing in the Empress' loge. (Where Theodora would have stood! *swoon*) Notice the beautiful Islamic calligraphy in the background.

The Hagia Sophia remained the largest cathedral in the world for almost a thousand years, and while Justinian and Theodora built several churches, this is the crown jewel of their reign together.


Jade said...

It looks so amazing! One day...

L.G.Smith said...

Awesome! Best feeling ever to stand somewhere your character does in a novel. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Wow - it's so incredibly beautiful! No wonder you got teary being there!

Julie Dao said...

It's so, so, SO beautiful there. How magical that you got to see the world in your novel. Maybe I should take another trip to Paris... you know, for "research." Thanks for sharing the pictures!

Josin L. McQuein said...

Ahhh! I was trying to describe this structure to someone like three days ago. I've seen pictures, but I didn't know the name - THANK YOU!

storyqueen said...

So incredibly beautiful. Just. wow.

Love the new author photo, btw. Lovely and fresh.

Well, time to think about school again, huh? Alas, summers are so short and filled with such wonder.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Jade--One day for sure! And you can bring your munchkin too--mine loves to travel now!

L.G.- It's beyond surreal. I think that's why I cry every time it happens.

Jemi-- And pictures don't do it justice!

Julie--I think another trip to Paris is in order. Of course, Paris just makes me think of food. Yum...

Josin--Glad I could help! :)

Shelley--Summers are indeed far too fast! Soon there will be snow on the ground (at least in Alaska). Eep!

Lorena said...

It's cool to be in the real setting of our novels, isn't it? This summer I went back home (Ecuador) and I visited the church where my opening scene takes place (and I found a new detail to add!) I also visited a convent I had only seen in photographs (I found another detail and realized some of my descriptions were off!) But other than visiting for research, it's such an incredible feeling to be there. Even more if the person really existed, like in your case! (I do have some historical figures in mine, but not my protagonist.)