Saturday, October 07, 2006

Constantinople, Part 5: Agia Sophia

After the boat trip, we headed downtown to Agia Sophia. (See the lower right hand part of the land on the map.) Of course, the Turks now call it 'a museum' and charge $7 for entrance.

Well, I don't know how to say this, but we actually left feeling quite sad. The Turks have just ruined the building. They have some cheap plywood and 2x4s making up these great big signs with words from the Koran. Because they say it's a 'museum,' they have this one gigantic piece of terrible German modern art right in the middle. Locals looking to make a buck hover over the place like parasites. The only icons that have survived were by accident, because the Ottomans whitewashed them and now they've uncovered a few (very few) pieces of the iconography underneath the whitewash.

Still, it was amazing to stand in the same place where the Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council convened. The middle photo shows the marble doors that sealed off the synod chamber.

The top photo is of the entrance, and the bottom photo is of one of the few remaining pieces of iconography.

As a side note, Pelagia and I both felt that St. Savas in Belgrade, Serbia was more impressive in terms of the vastness. Although I guess it's technically smaller, the fact that it's treated with veneration and respect adds to its sense of the grandeur of God.
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