Inside the Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sofia photographed by Martina Korkmaz for The Depth of Now, Istanbul

There is a story to the Hagia Sofia that is laid out in history books and tourist guides but that is not the story that I remember it by. I think of it as the place that stopped me on my way in and took my breath away. The first place that ever humbled me in its presence and I have seen many beautiful places.

My impressions of the Hagia Sofia is that it is like a mountain which contains a secret. If you have never been inside you are unprepared for what awaits you – a vast contained space decorated with rare marble and golden mosaics that glitter in the darkness drawing your eyes upwards to its amazing heights.

Each time I visit I am taken in by the intricate patterns created by the slanted veining of the marble panelling used to decorate its walls. Marble in colours of deep yellow, emerald green and blood red. The beauty of the Hagia Sofia is the type that is indescribable. It has to be experienced to be understood.

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Dedicated on December 26th, 537 by the emperor Justinian, the great church of Haghia Sophia was the religious centre of the Byzantine Empire for nine hundred years. After the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, it served as an imperial mosque of the Ottoman Empire. After the foundation of the Turkish Republic, it was turned into a museum in 1935.