October 20, 2010

Giant calligraphic medallions inside Hagia Sohpia, Istanbul, Turkey

Location: Inside of Hagia Sophia, Instanbul, Turkey (41° 0′ 31″ N, 28° 58′ 48″ E)
Date: 20 April 2010, 9.40am
Camera: Canon 400D with Canon 70-200/f4L USM

Hagia Sophia is a former church, then a mosque, and now a museum. It was the largest cathedral in the world for more than a thousand years. The cathedral was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople (Istanbul’s former name) from the Byzantine Empire. It is one of the grandest current and former religious buildings that I have the pleasure of visiting. To me, this building is comparable to the Vatican’s St Peter’s Basilica in its grandeur and place in history. There are many interesting historical and architectural aspects to the building, all enmeshed with the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires’ history. On entering the museum, one of the most distinguishing sights is the 8 gigantic circular-framed disks or medallions hanging on the columns. These were inscribed with the names of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad, the first four caliphs and the two grandchildren of Mohammed. Hagia Sophia is a MUST-SEE stop on anyone’s visit to Turkey.

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