Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Hagia Sophia, Sultanahmet Mh., Ayasofya Meydanı, Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey, (from the Greek: Ἁγία Σοφία, "Holy Wisdom"; Turkish: Ayasofya) is a former Christian patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi) in Istanbul, Turkey. Built in 537 it served as an Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, who ordered this main church of Orthodox Christianity converted into a mosque. By that point, the church had fallen into a state of disrepair. It remained a mosque until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum in 1935. Although a museum the minarets still broadcast the daily Muslim prayers.
As I worked on this sketch, Terry went inside to explore the museum. A young Turkish girl let me know she was also an artist. We did our best to communicate using the universal language of sketching. She showed me her quick sketches, and I showed her mine. I probably learned more about her from that quick exchange of images than if we had chatted for hours. A picture is worth a thousand words.
The large public square bustled with activity. Hagia Sophia is one of the top tourist attractions in Istanbul. Women covered head to toe in black burkas were among the tourists. It seemed a contradiction to see them fingering their iPhones.