Istanbul's Hagia Sophia

Of all the amazing, beautiful thing to see in Istanbul, the Hagia Sophia is the thing.  The 1,500 year old behemoth of a cathedral/mosque/museum has stood as one of the world's most important religious and architectural buildings.  After it was completed in the sixth century it stood for a thousand years as the world's largest cathedral.   The Hagia Sophia began as an Orthodox Cathedral, was eventually converted to a Roman Catholic Cathedral, and then in 1453, with the rise of the Ottoman Empire, it was converted to a mosque.  Finally, in the 1930's the building was secularized and converted into a museum for the public.  It's an amazing structure perhaps most famous for the incredible dome that rests atop it's cluttered foundations.  It's insanely heavy and has fallen in on a couple of occasions, though it's been fairly stable for about a thousand years, so totally safe if you plan on visiting.

As far as the photography, this is one of the places I was most excited to go in Istanbul.  With my 10-24 I knew I'd be able to get really wide pictures and be able to shoot at fairly low shutter speeds in the dark building.  On the day we went I was surprised to find that the 10mm didn't feel wide enough!  I couldn't get as much of the Hagia Sophia in the pictures as I wanted.  Oh well, maybe next time.  As always, here's 10 pictures and some foolish comments.
In order to hold the massive dome up, supports have been build all around the base of the cathedral.  It's turned the building into a kind of lumpy, blocky looking thing.  The mega-mosques that came later, The Blue Mosque, the New Mosque, are more beautiful on the outside.
This is probably my favorite shot of inside.  You've got the wooden disks with the Arabic, you've got the mother Mary mosaic.  

The 10mm lens really got a lot here.  It's a good idea as to how large the building is.  
The wooden disks with Arabic add something to the space, they seem to me to be a good reminder of the history of the place and of the world.

What a happy couple.

I don't know these people, but in this giant museum full of people these two had found some quiet space and I thought it  looked peaceful.  That giant circle thing also gives some idea of the scale of the wooden disks.  They are huge!
Here's another one that shows just how freaking big this place is.  What is this, a church for ants?

The sun was cutting through the windows, giving these nice long rays.  Also here you can see the stained glass windows that add just another touch of awesomeness.

Check out this mosaic.  When the light and shadows are just right, Jesus is on the cross.  

The mosaics are another big deal in this church.  They've been here forever and they've been painted over and covered and uncovered and lots have been destroyed and lost forever.  But, a few survive.

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