伊斯坦堡 (2) - 聖索菲亞大教堂 / Istanbul (2) - Hagia Sophia


Across the park from the Blue Mosque stands Hagia Sophia, they are the most famous monuments in Istanbul, and the two together is such an amazing sight.

由藍色清真寺看聖索菲亞大教堂 / Looking at Hagia Sophia from Blue Mosque’s outer courtyard

表裹不一的聖索菲亞大教堂 / Don’t judge Hagia Sophia by its exterior


The exterior of Hagia Sophia is utterly unremarkable, had I not know what it looked like; I wouldn’t have known it’s such an important and famous monument.  Its fame comes from its history and its interior.

「平平無奇」的聖索菲亞大教堂 / The “unremarkable” Hagia Sophia

聖索菲亞大教堂的歷史 / Hagia Sophia’s history




The existing Hagia Sophia is the third cathedral to occupy the site.  There were two previous ones and both destroyed by rioters.  In 532, Byzantine Emperor Justinian ordered this third cathedral to be constructed.  From its completion in 537, it remained the world’s largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.

In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II; who converted this main church of the Orthodox Christianity into a mosque.  The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels and other relics were removed, and the mosaics depicting Jesus, his Mother Mary, Christian saints and angels were also removed or plastered over. Islamic features – such as the mihrab, minbar, and four minarets – were added.

It remained a mosque until 1931 when it was closed to the public for four years. It was re-opened in 1935 as a museum by the Republic of Turkey. (Source: Wikipedia)

金碧輝煌的大教堂 / The glorious interior


Stepping inside the cathedral, my first feeling was “gold”… golden wall paint, golden mosaic, golden glow, and golden Arabic script…

外廊的金色天花 / The golden ceiling in the narthex
金色的蘇丹簽名鑲嵌 / The golden mosaic of Sultan’s signature

「金」光閃閃的大堂 / The “golden” nave
金色的阿拉伯書法圓匾 / The massive Arabic script roundels


Also it’s grand and glorious; the big and high dome, the spacious nave, the massive Arabic script roundels, even the timeworn paint on the wall show its history…  What a shame half of the hall was in scaffolding…

由另一個角度,可見大堂的宏偉 / From another angle, it’s so grand and glorious

55.6米的穹頂 / The 55.6m tall dome

連維修棚架的大堂全貌 / The full view of the nave with the scaffolding


Above the mihrab close to the dome, there’re a couple wall painting of Mary, Jesus and angels, and a couple of Arabic script roundels close by.  It’s a tiny example, but it’s nice to see some co-existences between both Christianity and Muslim.

兩種宗教的共融 / The mix of both religion

其他相片 / Some other photos:

來一張自拍照 / Here’s a selfie

由吊燈中間去看聖母壁畫 / Looking at wall painting of Mary and Jesus through the chandelier

加冕台,自動導遊器這是拜占庭皇帝加冕的地方。 由十二個小的圓形大理石圍繞大的圓形大理石,但我數了很多次都數不到十二個小的大理石… / Coronation square, audio guide says here’s where the Byzantine emperor being crowned. It’s made of a big round shaped marble stone surrounded by 12 small ones, I counted many times, just couldn’t count all 12 small marble stones…

在大堂裹有一對很大的大理石水瓶,這是其中一個 / There’re a pair massive marble water jar in the corner of the nave, here’s one of them

壁龕,是一幅圓形的崁入牆,用來指示聖城麥加的方向。由於聖索菲亞大教堂前身是一間教堂,所以壁龕並不是在祭壇的中央,而是在偏右的位置 / The mihrab, is a rounded niche in the wall that marks the direction of Mecca.  Since Hagia Sophia started out as a Christian cathedral, the mihrab here is slightly off-center, because that’s the direction of Mecca.

在二樓的東正教畫像鑲嵌 / The Christian mosaic on the first floor

一直都很好奇圓匾的後面是怎麼樣的… / I’ve always wondered what're the back of the roundels are like…

在大堂出口的壁畫鑲嵌 / The mosaic at the exit of the nave

在大堂外的淨身泉 / The ablution fountain on the outside

聖索菲亞大教堂前身的遺跡 / The remains of the old Hagia Sophia

教堂 vs. 清真寺 (第二回) / Church vs. Mosque (round 2)


On my last day in Turkey, I saw a television crew filming in the park between Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.  I asked them with curiosity what they were filming.  It turned out they were the local TV station's news crew, doing a feature on Hagia Sophia.

土耳其政府打算將聖索菲亞大教堂由博物館再次改成清真寺,他們打算採訪市民和遊客的看法。他們並沒有訪問我 (我知道我的面貌並不上鏡),但我在心裹想,伊斯坦堡真時這麼需要清真寺到這麼一個程度?需要把一間博物館再次改成清真寺? 我在伊斯坦堡住了五天,並沒有遇到過回教徒在寺外做禱告。這雖然不能明什麼,但會令我問「真的這麼需要嗎?」。

Apparently the Turkish government has been thinking converting Hagia Sophia from a museum back to a mosque.  The news crew was there to interview the locals and tourists for their views.  They didn’t interview me (I know I’m far from photogenic…), I just can’t help to think, does Istanbul really need another mosque this badly? Need to convert the museum back into a mosque?


In fact, if any conversion is to take place, I’d much rather like to see Hagia Sophia to be converted back into a church.  2 religious monuments belong to different religions, facing each other in distance; I think this co-existence of 2 different religions carries more meaning than its current state.

新聞攝制人員 / The news crew