Hagia Sophia Unknown Beauty

The roles of Hagia Sophia through History - Mosque and Church

The roles of Hagia Sophia through history - Mosque and Church

“Lady, Lady – audio tour – you want audio tour?” the man behind the counter urgently asked as I briskly walked past the booth. As others were lining up to get their audio tour devices and handing over their lira to learn more about Istanbul’s biggest tour attraction – I decided I didn’t want to know the detailed stories, instead I just wanted my eyes to take it all in and embrace the unknown.

While standing in line to buy my entrance ticket to Hagia Sophia I read a high level summary of the history and description of the famous site from my Istanbul Lonely Planet iphone app – and I decided that was all I needed. After all I was there on a photographic journey rather than a historical journey.

I vaguely remember coming to Hagia Sophia (meaning Holy Wisdom)  on my first visit to Istanbul 12 years ago. It was my first exposure to the Islamic religion and the first time I had been in a mosque (even though it was no longer a functioning mosque). I remember being fascinated by the layout of the building – so different than the typical churches I had been in my whole life. But most of all I remember how the Hagia Sophia seemed to have such a long history of change – nothing in the United States was this old – nothing had such a long history. It made me think about and consider times and lives I had never thought about before. It was the beginning of my curiosity that has lead me on this path I’m on today – to see what else this world had to offer that I didn’t know about – to get out of the known and live in the unknown.

But this time I was here to do what I didn’t the first time – photograph it. I knew the challenge ahead of me – how do you photograph this popular site with thousands of visitors milling around every corner of the massive building? I knew one thing for certain – it would take a lot of creativity in composition and a great deal of patience.

Sometimes I was successful and sometimes I wasn’t. But for me it was 2 hours of photographic fun under the vast domes of this architectural and historical wonder. I didn’t need any audio guide to teach me anything – I had everything I needed to know right in front of my lens.

Sometimes things are just beautiful – and you don’t have to know why.

The haunting light of Hagia Sophia

The haunting light of Hagia Sophia

The archway catches the light

The golden archway cradles the light

The minbar where the speaker leads the prayers

The minbar where the speaker leads the prayers in the mosque

Lights hang from the tall ceiling of Hagia Sophia

Lights hang from the tall ceiling of Hagia Sophia

Silhouette windows in Hagia Sophia

Silhouetted windows provide a stunning backdrop

The view from the balcony

The view from the balcony give you the full picture of greatness

A view from the bottom floor

A view from the bottom floor (literally on the floor!)

Stairs leading to the upper level

Visitors walk to the upper level to enjoy the view

Intricate designs

Intricate railings guard the upper level

The view outside the Hagia Sophia

A view of the Blue Mosque from the window of Hagia Sophia

A rare empty corridor

A rare empty corridor

View all Hagia Sophia photography and check out my other Turkey photography!


Your Comments

9 Comments so far

  1. Did you get a shot of where the alter was and now replaced by mecca facing thing. Great shots all-in-all.

  2. Mike says:

    Your photos are mesmerizing! Thanks for sharing. Safe Travels !!!

  3. Carla says:

    WOW. I just stumbled across this, and now I want to check flights to Istanbul. These are just wonderful!

  4. Amazing photos!! Almost like being there. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Jeff Dobbins says:

    This is one of the most stunning places I’ve ever seen, and your photos really capture its essence. I particularly love the chandeliers of mosque lights and shot of the ceiling.

  6. Waegook Tom says:

    I love these photos, Sherry! I was in Istanbul a couple of years ago, but decided to bypass the Hagia Sophia in favour of the Blue Mosque, as the lines at the time were insane (as was the heat).

    The photo of the Blue Mosque from inside the Hagia Sophia, the minbar, and the silhouetted windows with the chandelier (if that’s the proper name in this case?) in the foreground are my favourites.

    Thanks so much for sharing – looks like I’ll definitely have to pay it a visit when I head back to Istanbul next year :)

  7. Stunning photos, I was recently reading Paulo Coelho ‘The Witch of Portobello’ which interestingly enough is all about a woman being guided by Hagia Sophia.

    Amazing to see these photos which bring it all together for me. You truly captured the beauty.

  8. Jay says:

    Great shots! I have been meaning to get across and check out Turkey for a long time now. I only live across the way in Bulgaria too so I should hurry up and get off my butt.

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