Saturday, April 02, 2005

Aya Sophia

Yesterday we went to see the Aya Sophia – built by emperor Justinian in the 5th century, and considered for over 1,000 years the greatest church in Christiandom.

I love eastern art and buildings – India was my introduction to them, and I find nothing comparable in the West. I was in Ravenna, Italy, a year ago, and saw the 5th century mosaics of Ravenna – the westernmost part of Justinian’s empire. A truly emotional experience.

My mother is great for this kind of touring. She has a wonderful aesthetic sense, and she points things out to me that I would never see. In this case, she was blown away by the size of the Aya Sophia, and by its free floating dome (no supports or butresses). The mosaics were incredible too. Unfortunately the whole place is truly run down – very different from Ravenna in that sense. Turkey apparently isn’t affluent enough to renovate it (?), although I’d think the $15 admission that they charge would go a long way…


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