if you were to return to Istanbul again and was given an option of visiting only one place, it would definitely be the Hagia Sofia.
The Byzantine church of Hagia Sophia which stands atop the first hill of Constantinople at the thip of the historic peninsula surrounded by the waters of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn on three sides. It was built by Junstinan I between 532 and 537 and is located in close prosimity to the Great Palace of the Emperors, the Hippodrome and the Church of Hagia Irene. It was converted into the Aya Sophia mosque when the Ottomons ruled. The hid all signs of the churches existence by covering over the beautiful mosaics which chronicled it's Christian history. It's now been secularised and both Christian and Islam symbols coexist most beautifully together.
I read in a guidebook after my visit to the Hagia Sophia that when you first step inside, the splendour and beauty of the place often stops people in its tracks and takes their breadth away. That was exactly what happened for me, but it's power was so immense that it also moved me to tears.
I felt so unbelievably blessed that I had the opportunity to be in the midst of such history and of the beauty of 2 faiths that are so closely linked to my being.
Labels: istanbul, travel bug