I will admit that I am fascinated by history, but frankly, I am not the best at it. There are a number of historical facts that I don’t know and if you questioned me on much of my own American History, I would fail at that as well. But having an opportunity to spend time in parts of Europe where so much of what I learned about in history has been a great chance for the kids to see, in real life, sights that otherwise seem magical and unobtainable.
By Accident Really
I would like to say I had the whole trip to Istanbul planned out to the day, with history lessons pre-planned and visual aids to go along. But, if you know me, I have always been a bit more extemporaneous. I do lots of research and planning and then at the last moment I wing it. So it was kind of a stroke of luck really that our trip turned out that we did a day of Byztantine history, followed by a day with the Ottomans.
Just a small little church, built by some Roman Emperor named Justinian. It was built something like, oh yeah, in 534. Was a church for 1000 years, give or take a few, before being converted to a mosque where frescoes were covered and all Christian decoration was replaced with Islamic decoration. It acted as a mosque for another couple hundred years, give or take a couple hundred. It is tall enough to fit the Statue of Liberty inside (without her torch). It is epic in all ways. Converted to a museum in the 1930s and the site now shows much of both the Christian and Islamic heritage. But really it is not until you see it that you appreciate it.
Steps worn flat from 1500 years of footsteps.
Gigantic Chandeliers light the way.
Of course somewhere along the line, after the church was originally built. they put in stained glass.
The scale is really hard to imagine. It isn’t until you get to the second floor, up a ramp (rather than stairs allegedly so that the patrons didn’t have to walk but could be taken up in carts) that you see the grand size of this building.
And then there are the Frescoes.
Let me just say, that I recently visited the Taj Mahal, reputed to be one of the World’s most grand buildings, and it was amazing. But the Hagia Sophia left us all in awe. I think I took over 400 pictures in the building alone and felt like I hadn’t even begun to see the whole thing. Even the kids, who started to wilt in the 85% humidity and the 95 F (35 C) heat thought it was amazing and kept seeing a new thing at each angle.
But our friend Justin wasn’t done yet
After a break back at the hotel, and a whole lot of advance planning (okay none) we thought we should hit the Basilica Cistern, but while we did it in one day, you need to wait until tomorrow to see those pictures. Come back okay?