Turkey tours in Hagia Sophia: Hagia Sophia was first established as a church being burned destroyed, and rebuilt for many times in different periods of time. Later on, with time passing by, the Ottomans have transformed the church into a mosque when they conquered the Istanbul in 1453.
Hagia Sophia as a mosque
The mosque of Hagia Sophia has played a major significant role throughout the rule of the Ottoman Empire over many regions in the world. When Mohamed the Conqueror, was able to enter Constantinople in May 1453 AD, he prayed to god in front of the main entrance of the Church of Hagia Sophia and he ordered his men to transform the church into a mosque.
Some historians stated that the modification of the church to become a mosque took three days adding a wooden Minbar and minaret and that the first prayer in the mosque of Hagia Sophia was held on the following Friday, while other scholars noted that Moslem prayers and rituals took place in Hagia Sophia on the same day the Ottomans entered the city.
With the growing need to have a place to perform their rituals in a region that was originally Christian with no mosques erected there throughout history, the Ottomans had to build some mosques and to transform some churches as well to become mosques. Putting in consideration the cold weather of the region where snow falls many times around the year, the Moslem Sheikhs issued an advisory opinion, or a "Fatwa" stating that it is proper to use the Church of Hagia Sophia as a mosque.
Therefore, when Mohamed II, or Mohamed the conqueror who was able to defeat the Byzantines, entered Istanbul, he ordered his men to remove the Crosses that were placed in prominent locations in the church, put a wooden Minbar, or the chair of the Sheikh, in the right side of the prayer hall of the Church. All the Christian decorations, inscriptions, and symbols were left in their places. This included portraits of Virgin Mary and the Christ that were drawn on the walls and the ceilings of Hagia Sophia and they are still well preserved until today. The Ottomans have even covered the Christian symbols with a clothing to preserve it.
However, to modify the church to become a mosque, the Ottomans have added some of their touches. They added many Quran inscriptions all over the place. This was besides the four huge circular writing plates that were posted in the heart of the dome of Hagia Sophia.
These plates contained the words; Allah, Mohamed, Abu Bakr, Amr, Othman, and Ali, and the last four names belong to the four Caliphs that followed prophet Mohamed in ruling over the Islamic empire. Numerous tourists who go on Istanbul holidays and many private Turkey tours explore the wonders of Hagia Sophia today.
The description of Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia was constructed in the Byzantine domed Basilica with a rectangular with a length of 76 meters from East to West and 72 meters from North to South. The great dome of the structure is situated on the top of the building and it is constructed between 55 and 60 meters above the ground level. The dimensions of the dome are 30 and 87 meters between the East and the West and 87 and 31 meters between the North and the South covering an area of around 700 meters.
While Basalt and granite were used to construct the walls of the structure, the dome of the building is placed on four huge marble columns with a dimension of three meters each.
The dome of Hagia Sophia is considered to be the greatest achievement of the Byzantine architectural art. It was the hugest dome in the world when it was constructed in the sixth century and it was erected so high as if it flied in the sky.
The mosque has only one large entrance door located at the Western side of the structure and it does not lead the guest to the prayer hall directly, but it takes the visitor to a rectangular corridor.
At the end of this corridor, there is the inner unique staircase that leads to the upper floor. The matchless staircase does not have steps but it consists of a spiral corridor that ascends gradually and simply taking the visitor to main hall of the structure.
When the guest enters the main hall of Hagia Sophia, the beautifully decorated colored windows immediately grab his attention. Hagia Sophia inner design depended on the second floor style having a higher floor, like a balcony, all over the prayer area, except the Eastern section that contains the Mihrab of the mosque.
The most significant feature of Hagia Sophia is that it still contains the arts of Christians and Moslems side by side until today. Most of the Moslem rulers, throughout history, have preferred to destruct churches and then use the material in building new mosques. However, Hagia Sophia will always remain the exception where one can see the portraits of the Virgin Mary and the Christ near the Quran inscriptions done by the Ottomans
The Byzantines and the Ottomans afterwards gave special attention to the decoration and the beauty of Hagia Sophia from inside. Justinian I have gathered all the possible resources to decorate and ornament his church. Many walls of Hagia Sophia are covered with alabaster with different colors.Mosaics were used to decorate the ceilings of the structure.
Although many of these ceilings were covered with gypsum layers during the Ottomans era when Islamic inscriptions on these layers, most of this gypsum collapsed with time passing by and the original scenes drawn on the ceilings of the church reappeared.
Hagia Sophia will always remain as one of the most wonderful and greatest museums of human history. Tourists from all over the world visiting Hagia Sophia feel as if they have entered inside a history book exhibiting the history of Istanbul and Turkey in general. It is one of the view historical sites in the world where a guest can view Byzantine, Christian, and Islamic art and architecture in the same place. Any Turkey Tour including private Turkey tours will always include a visit to discover the secrets of Hagia Sophia
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