Friday, 10 July 2015

Hagia Sofia

The Hagia Sofia is currently a museum - well, I say currently, I mean since the days of Ataturk, in 1935.   Ataturk is credited for bringing the various regions of this area together and creating the state we know today as Turkey - a secular state, no less.  Before that it was a mosque for over 900 years and before that a church, so to say it has a bit of history behind it is an understatement.

The Hagia Sofia, 1993

A beautiful patina on the walls - very Venice-like.  It was, apparently, the world's largest cathedral for 1000 years and is considered one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. The educated reader will of course know the name comes from the Greek word sophos, meaning wisdom, so the name means 'Holy Wisdom', or if you prefer the longer Greek version, 'Shrine of the Holy Wisdom of God'.
So that about wraps up this little tour of Turkey and Istanbul.  We also visited the Grand Bazaar, which was an amazing adventure - over 91 million annual visitors these days, so I'm told.  I seem to remember that you could buy almost anything there.  In 1993 the Turkish Lira was in dire straights and the exchange rate was changing daily - in our favour.  The sellers were very astute - we had been advised to bring both US dollars and German Marks and the sellers would give you an instant price in all 3 currencies - TL, USD and DM.  Very impressive.  I did buy a fake Rolex when I was there, and to be fair it did last a lot of years before the glass face fell off and got lost and that was the end of the Rolex.

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