June 3, 2013

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Photograph by Melih Sular

This Month in Photo of the Day: Travel Photos

An interior shot of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey

This photo and caption were submitted to the 2013 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. Have photos of your own travels you would like to submit? Enter today!

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cenk ay
cenk ay

Melih! We're providing a postcard service, it's called "Send My City Postcards".

Your picture is just amazing! Wow! \o/

If you want to add your beautiful artwork to our photographers' gallery so people can send them as a real postcard from Istanbul (with a stamp and everything!) please contact me (www,facebook.com/SendMyCityPostcards).

Sravan Kumar
Sravan Kumar

The lightening on the boy is looking Coollllll............entirely the Picture is Good.

Jocelyn Kinny
Jocelyn Kinny

Great shot. Appropriate timing as Photo of the Day, i think. #TurkeyProtest

Pramod Korgaonkar
Pramod Korgaonkar

Amazing,I like the various shades in B/W. This effect not depicted in colour.

 I request NG for search  Western Ghates (Western Cost of India) This is the one of the most beautiful part of world.

Kras Bonch
Kras Bonch

 Look nice,because before the Turks to come to the Balkans it was a Orthodox church"santa Sophia(on greek means wisdom) !

amani carruther
amani carruther

I'm always fascinated by how the people built a beautifully crafted building during those times. Oh, and nicely captured moment by the way, as the light directly falls on the running boy.

Gabriele Buondonno
Gabriele Buondonno

@Anonymous Anonymous Now

1) It is "Hagia Sophia" as correctly spelled by Nat Geo. So if writing "This is Agia Sofia" was a way of criticizing, next time do know something about what you are talking about.

2) I don't see any place were Nat Geo has explicitly written it's a mosque, so why pointing that out?! Does the fact Turkish people claim it's a mosque imply no photographs of it can be taken? Should they say "Hagia Sophia, Constantinople"?

3) Yes it was a church, but it was later converted to a mosque.  If you look carefully, you'll notice its walls are decorated according to turkish islamic art, which is beautiful; better than byzantine paintings for sure! they tend to be a bit rough. This is the greatest beauty of Istanbul, how the East and the West are so perfectly blended. Anyway, the place is not even a mosque anymore, but a museum. Many of the preceding byzantine paintings were beautifully restored; because the Turks decided to do so. If you go to Istanbul, you'll see a lot of signs clearly saying it's a church. 

4) Here in Rome, we have the Pantheon, the Temple of All Gods, built by the Romans in pagan times. Now it's a church, and that doesn't make it less beautiful. I could bring you dozens of examples like this one. The alternative is destruction, exactly as the Christians did to the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, one of the 7 wonders of the world! So in the end, I think everything has settled just right for good old Hagia Sophia

5) It's normal for any civilization to borrow elements from the older ones they have replaced. Europeans did it with the Romans, Romans did with the Etrusks and the Greeks, Greeks, once called Mycenaean, did it with the Minoan civilization, and so on...

6) This is a beautiful photo and nobody was hurt to take it, so who cares?!

Your remark denotes nothing but narrow-mindedness, and that special kind of ignorance that pretends being full of knowledge by only knowing what it wants to know and showing it off. You should be ashamed of yourself

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy moderator expert

Hi @Lav T @Gabriele Buondonno -Thanks for joining the conversation. We've removed the posts by the person who commented anonymously for the time being, as our Terms of Service require members to use their real names at the time of registration. More information about this is available on our FAQ page.

Lav T
Lav T

funny how both people who have issues with this picture are so proud of their opinion that they feel the need to post anonymously ...

let's not be hypocrites and admit that it does belong to turkey now, they can do whatever they want with it, byzantine style is not better nicer or w.e. than muslim style (as these two obviously imply -_- ) and most of all that if Greece still had the territory it used to have during Alexander they would have also passed some of the monuments build by civilizations they conquered as theirs... 

and if you want to talk history, they DID conquer it so deal with it.. it's theirs and they can do whatever they want with it... it is the Greek philosophy after all:  The strong do as they can and the weak suffer what they must. so stop being an hypocrite 

and no, I am not muslim, I am eastern european of orthodox background

Gabriele Buondonno
Gabriele Buondonno

@Anonymous Anonymous @Gabriele Buondonno

1) The TRANSLITERATION OF φ, called "phi", is "ph". In ancient times, it was pronounced as a "p" followed by an "h". Now, in modern Greek, it is read "f", and that's also the way modern people read ancient Greek, for simplicity; but the transliteration stays "ph". The "A" in Αγία should have a little mark on the top left which in Italian we call something like "sour spirit" and is read like an "h" before the vowel; in class, we usually didn't read it and I don't know how it works in modern Greek, but the transliteration requires an "h". This is ancient Greek. Sources: I have studied ancient Greek for 5 years in high school and I have actually translated from it, as many kids in Italy do.

2) Yes, and they should say Londinium or Lutetia every time they are showing something Roman in London or Paris, what the hell are you talking about?! The contemporary name of the city is Istanbul; maybe not in Greek, but in English and in any other language in the world it is Istanbul, and this is an English speaking website; saying Istanbul is neutral in English, saying Costantinople would either sound old-fashioned, or politically connoted, or simply weird. By the way, Constantin was a Roman Emperor, and the only reason why Constantinople has ever been capital of an empire is the fact the Romans had an Empire, made Byzantium capital of it and renamed the city; then they split the empire in 2 and made Byzantium the capital of the Eastern half.

3) I have visited Hagia Sophia, I have checked, thank you. Damage has been done, but its walls are full of gold and Byzantine paintings. Overall, it is a magnificent example of both Byzantine art and Turkish Islamic art.

4) That is not what I meant with point 4: what I meant was, it's being converted to another use, and all of its heathen statues and idols have been destroyed, replaced by Christian symbols; it has been a huge change, but it has not been destroyed, and I still admire the pantheon the way it is now. Anyhow, I don't see any Turk saying Hagia Sophia was built by Soliman. But, if you want different examples, maybe I should talk about the "Alhambra", built by the Arabs in Granada? Spanish people are very proud of it! Or about the "Gioconda", in Paris, legally purchased by the French king but painted by Leonardo da Vinci? Not to mention everything that was stolen over the years in Italy? There is so much Italian art around the world, that I am almost tired of seeing it everywhere I go! And everybody is proud of the masterpieces they have, which were made by Italians!

5) The fact Greeks are not extinct doesn't mean anything. The Turkish people do not claim to be the cultural heirs of the Byzantine Empire. Yes, fortunately there are still Greeks, and that "despite the efforts of certain civilizations": there have been violent fights between Greeks and Turks in the early XX century, by both sides, both from the Turks and the Greeks. I won't talk about what the Turks did to the Greeks because I am sure you know it very well, so I'll just say the Greeks basically tried to conquer all Turkey, and many Turkish or Islamic people living in Greece were expelled. So, I would also say the Turks are still there, despite the efforts of the Greeks! Please note my country knows pretty well what it means to be dominated and to lose major parts: Italy has been dominated by foreign powers for centuries, not so long as Greece, but it made its damage, both from the cultural and from the territorial point of view. Many places, which once were Italian, now are not: among those, Nice, Corsica, Istria and Dalmatia; in the last two, there has been a major ethnic wipeout right after WWII, and Nice is a beautiful French city. Our history is way more similar than you may think. Anyhow, Istanbul had not been a greek city for centuries before these facts, and it is not a greek city today. It is still see of the Patriarch of Constantinople, but it's a turkish city. Today, Istanbul and Anatolia are motherland of the Turks. That country has always been a crossroad for many different peoples. Turkish are the last, Greeks were not the first. Besides, I really can't see how you can say "they usually tend to bring a few better elements to the table, unlike in this situation"; have you ever been to Istanbul, or to Turkey altogether? The Turks built a wonderful empire, a very tolerant empire (Europe is still Christian), a very advanced empire, a wonderful civilization, and built a lot of magnificent things. Civilizations come and civilizations go. When I visited Turkey, the impression I had of the Byzantine paintings was a feeling of decadence, and I contrasted it the magnificence and vitality of Islamic art. If you really want to know, I was more impressed by the Blue Mosque; which was built taking inspiration from Hagia Sophia, but you cannot deny its being an original creation of an original civilization. By the way, do you know Greeks did not use archs or vaults or domes on a large scale before the Romans taught them to do so? When I say this, consider I am perfectly aware of what the Greeks gave the world and to the Romans in particular, in literature, in philosophy, in politics, in mathematics, in science, in in visual arts, and also in law, during the Byzantine period, with the "Corpus Iuris Civilis", which by the way was largely due to Roman Civil Law... Had it not been for Greece, the world would be very different, certainly worse. I love Greece as one of the most wonderful countries on earth, both historically, both today. When you come from a country which means so much, it's normal to feel no other place is comparable. But there are other great civilizations, and the Turkish Empire is one of them.

6) I really don't see how this simple photograph can offend you and how it could offend a nation. It is not making political campaign. That's the interior of Hagia Sophia, and that's the way it is, full stop. Should they pretend it doesn't exist until Greece conquers Istanbul? Or should they cover up all Islamic signs before taking a shot? Or should they pretend it's ugly, so that all people could say "Ugh, look what the awful Turks did to beautiful greek-built Hagia Sophia"? This is a beautiful piece of Byzantine art. If you are so proud of it, you should only be happy people can see how wonderful it is. Then you can think everything you want about the Turkish right to hold the place, and about their right to put those Islamic prayers there, but blaming Nat Geo for taking a picture of it is ridiculous. No, really, I am asking, what would you do?

7) I know the history of what happened between the 2 nations, I know what happened after WWI, I know what is happening in Cyprus, and I know Greeks and Turks don't like each other very much, as the enormous quantity of people stressing it was built by greeks lives little doubts about.

8) I think it's very cowardly of you to post harsh remarks with the name Anonymous Anonymous, my comments may not be "nice", but my name is there.

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