Hagia Sofia

After visiting the spectacular Blue Mosque, it was time to walk across the square to the other main attraction of Istanbul, Hagia Sophia. Originally the biggest Orthodox cathedral of the Byzantine era, it fell to the Ottoman empire in 1453, and was turned into a mosque. It was secularized in 1931 and made into a museum.

photo (19)

photo 1 (14)

I was especially excited to visit this building, as I have been raised as a Greek Orthodox and so have been in several Greek Orthodox churches, including the stunning St Sophia cathedral in London, which took a lot of inspiration from its namesake in Istanbul (or Constantinople, as it was when Hagia Sophia was a church). I was keen to experience the amalgamation of church and mosque, and my Dad, who had been to Istanbul years ago, declared this to be the most important sight there.

photo 1 (26)

photo 2 (30)

I kept thinking all the signs said “Girls’ Entrance”…

In fact, it was even more of an obvious division than I expected. You can still see many of the mosaics depicting Christian figures and angels, with large wooden boards bearing writings from The Quran hung over them. (The mosaics were whitewashed over when it was converted into a mosque, and restored when it became a museum.)

I thought these lights were so beautiful:

lights2

photo 3 (26)

We walked upstairs through a long, windy and dark corridor. I had to laugh because my bf filmed all the way up this very boring walkway, expecting to emerge at a breathtaking view of the Cathedral and instead was greeted by-

-a giant wall of scaffolding!

photo (14)

They didn’t make many big structural changes when it was converted into a mosque, they merely added minarets and moved the altar off centre, as it obviously had to face Mecca.

photo (15)

It looks a bit weird actually, this majestically designed building with an off-centre focal point.

photo 5 (9)

photo 1 (17)

photo 3 (14)

photo 5 (10)

View of the Blue Mosque from the Hagia Sophia window:

photo 2 (18)

photo 3 (19)

It really was fascianting to see the mix of styles. Some of it was so Greek, and felt like I was just in a regular Greek church, and then you’d turn round and the Turkish, Muslim influence would completely change that. I love that they made it into a museum actually, so you can really enjoy the opposing cultures and heritage of this historic building.

photo 1 (19)

photo 3 (13)

photo 2 (17)

photo 1 (20)

Note to self: Try and stand in front of the No Entry sign that totally kills the effect of the picture next time.

(Pink trench: M&S, black dress: Asos, sunglasses: River Island)

I loved these cards in the gift shop:

photo 4 (15)

photo 3 (17)

Nothing makes me laugh more than the utter cheekiness of tourist shops selling air in a tin. Surely no one buys this?!!

Back outside, the Obelisk of Theodosius:

photo 5 (17)

photo 3 (8)

We went for lunch at The Han, my first meal sitting cross-legged on the floor. I now understand why this isn’t popular all over the world. It is really not that comfy!

photo 3 (18)

photo 2 (22)

Suite Blanco turquoise jewellery and H&M silver bangle.

photo 4 (16)

Ok, so I know this isn’t exactly depicting the majesty of Turkey, but still – I want my pyjamas waiting for me like this every day, dammit!

We went for a stroll along the Bosphorus in the evening. None of my pictures do justice to how pretty it was, or how the bridges have lights on them that sparkle as they sway in the wind. (The lights, not the bridges!)

photo 5 (14)

We went for dinner at a random streetside restaurant we passed, where a violinist came and played his violin (badly) on the table right next to us for half an hour, while I jumped out of my skin every time a stray cat brushed past me (which was often). Definitely not a highlight.

photo 1 (18)

We passed a massive tower of traditional sweets in a shop on the way home but, being me, I ended the evening back in my hotel room with a Cornetto.

In my defence, it was a flavour that we don’t have in England.

photo 3 (16)

Strawberry Cheesecake Cornetto… 😀

photo 2 (20)

And our first full day was done! Sob.

Thanks for reading!

Love,

The Styletterie

Advertisements