AyaSofya, icon of Istanbul. Number one attraction. Vague familiarity does not however at all prepare one for the splendour of its ancient spaces.
Hagia Sophia church took its present shape in the time of emperor Justinian, 6th century. The site was first consecrated in the time of Constantine. “Holy Wisdom” church, mothership of Byzantine Christianity. Earlier buildings were lost to fire.
Objects of fascination …
A church for eight hundred years, a mosque for nearly five hundred, AyaSofia/Hagia Sophia is now a museum and has been since 1935.
The part about AyaSofya being an icon, am giving that a rethink. On the outside AyaSofya is a dowdy old pile, heavily buttressed, of almost fantastic organic complexity. (Image borrowed from Byzantine Architecture website.)
Inside, AyaSofya simply confounds capture or reduction.
Fact check: Is AyaSofya really Istanbul’s number one attraction? It overflows with visitors. It was jammed. Lot of cruise ship visitors. What are the numbers? On many top ten lists AysSofya is Turkey’s number one, see websites of Touropia, Historvius: Mapping History, US News and World Report Travel, Planetware. On others, it’s number two. For the hard numbers, you’d think the turnstiles that are everywhere would be keeping track of numbers of visitors. So far, nothing has turned up.