Built in 537 AD, this is one of the most famous museums and monuments in the world in terms of art and architecture. It was a ... More
Built in 537 AD, this is one of the most famous museums and monuments in the world in terms of art and architecture. It was a church for 916 years and a mosque for 481 years, which was then converted into a museum in 1935. It is an epitome of Byzantian architecture. The massive dome, the large collection of holy relics, the illustrious urn, and the 49-foot silver iconostasis are some of the main attractions in this monument. Hagia Sophia is also believed to be the place which witnessed the beginning of Great Schism.
The Aya Sofya is amazing with its history. If those walls could talk. The security guards were very nice at the Aya Sofya and even offered to take some pictures for us as they have a practiced eye. The only bad thing that I can say about this area is the annoying salespeople trying to "act" friendly and helpful. The first day, one guy told us Topkapi was closed and it was not and sent us to the Aya Sofya instead only for us to learn that it was closed on Mondays. After that he followed us everywhere insisting that we stop at his shop and look at his carpets. He kept trying to pick fights with my husband saying that he is not a man and looks nervous and that he is insulted that we did not have an interest in his shop. He followed us all the way to the Blue Mosque. Later on in the week, we encountered another fella trying to act helpful and asking us to look at carpets at his shop. We did not even bother talking to him as we learned its best to just ignore these persistent annoying people. The third guy claimed that my husband looked familiar and that he worked for Sotheby's auction house. I immediately shot down any interest by declaring that Turkish carpets did not appeal to me at all while smiling politely. The conversation ended very quickly. Area is very touristy but unfortunately a must see!
Having been there twice, I have to write that I had good adventures both times.
I particularly like the reasonable small hotels in Sultanamet,within walking distance of many tourist sites. They are not 3-5 star hotels, but they are comfortable,clean,and usually include breakfast for the price.
Also, if you are brave enough, I have found that I can fly 1/2-way around the world without a hotel reservation, because I can find a hotel. Ask the cab driver to take you to Sultanamet and walk hotel to hotel till you find one that suits your needs and price. I always ask to see the room first before paying for it. Most of these hotels cost between $30.00-75.00/night. These prices were in 2006, the last time I was there.
I really like to use cabs for distant sites, and I also use the subway system, which is great. The subway system was actually part of the Orient Express Railroad at one time that ended in China.
It is a safe city for a woman to walk around alone shopping and sightseeing. Be sure to go to the Grand Bazaar.There are also smaller street bazaars that cover several acres,that you can get to from the subway.
Do try the hot tea offered on the streets in glass glasses. I have drunk tea several times and have never caught any disease.
Most of the food is very fresh with many vegaterian entre's cooked Mediterranean style.The food is extremely good and cheap. Do not be afraid to eat at street cafes or from a vendor selling corn cooked over coals and some type of pretzel that resembles a huge bagle. I drink bottled water to be safe, but I do that in any foreign city.
The rug salesmen can be very pushy. They will follow you around or talk for an hour to try to get a sale. Letting them talk is one way to learn about the culture and the city.I did not purchase carpets in Istanbul, because I can get the same quality and price in the USA.
P.S. I knew the first time traveling to Istanbul that it was a good place because several flight attendants for Delta Airlines were bringing their families for a vacation.
The Hagia Sopia is a gem in Istanbul that few in the USA really know about or have experianced.
We were thrilled when we went into the Sopia and walked the rooms and touched the walls and viewed the mosaic.
It is a must see in Istanbul!
It's an overwhelming structure. It was built by the Emperor Justinian II at about the period of 700 AD.
Justinian II was perhaps the greatest Emperor of the
Byzantine Empire but with the exception of Constantine I (The Great). Constantine established the new Capitol of the Roman Empire in Constantinople (now re-named Istanbul) at about 370 AD.
When Constantinople was both invaded and then conquered by the 4rth Crusades and later, the Ottoman Turks in 1453, the Church commonly called Santa Sophia (which means "Church of the Holy Wisdom" suffered some physical damage due to plunder. Attempts to repair created more damage to the Mosaics and Dome Areas. But aside from that, it's a reflection of past grandeur and of great historical significance.
Hagia Sophia should have been among 7 wonders of the world. Millenium old architecture is ever more impressive. It is also a place of tolerance and respect for other religions. Ottoman invaders in 1453 just added 4 wooden round boards to transform the church into a mosque. All the gorgeous Orthodox frescoes are preserved. Turkish Republic even went further and respecting its value as a multi-religion shrine, took this 500-year old mosque away from Islam and turned it into a museum.
There is graffiti even inside the museum. One guy named Harald the Viking carved his name on the marble in the 10th Century.
Hagia Sophia is a magnificent structure. One should pay particular attention to the entrance way and the exit door.
Once inside I was greatly impressed by the huge urns carved from solid marble.
This location is prime for other attractions, restaurants and shops. This is also a great vantage point for photographing the Blue Mosque.
isn't it amazing that a church was turned into a mosque- a rival religion? you can still see the original wall paintings in some places.
it's a bit dark which refelcts the architecture of that time. take it as it is.
you don't need to spend much time there. definitely look around outside too. there's also Sultan Ahmet mosque just across the park to see.
The traveller should read historical descriptions of the golden age of Hagia Sophia and its glorious interior as a Christian Church before visiting. Only then will the visitor appreciate the degradation the edifice has endured under Muslim-Turkish control. The Church has been allowed to be disrespected and a "bazaar" atmosphere prevails by street merchants and peddlers.
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