Ok, this is a “pinch me, I’m dreaming” moment, ya’ll! Hagia Sophia…really!
So the interior of this place is all I could imagine. I’ll quote the ever ready Wikipedia for us here:
From the date of its construction in 537 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.
Impressive history in a nutshell. A recent controversy arose in April, when an Islamic push began within Turkey to turn it back into a mosque. Our guide Orhan, a wealth of wisdom as well as anecdotes, informed us that Prime Minister Erdoğan, in a moment of wit (sometimes his wit is a bit TOO sharp) said that he would consider this transition…the moment he began to see that the neighboring (and active!) Blue Mosque was filled to overflowing at Friday prayers! Touché, Mr. Prime Minister…I’ll give you that one! Many a mosque in Turkey…but only one Hagia Sophia!
Words just do not do this “lady” justice, eh?
But we were not done yet!