Tag Archives: Sightseeing

Hagia Sophia – Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia-Sophia_166 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul   The Deësis mosaic, (Circa 1261) is a traditional iconic representation of  Christ Pantocrator carrying a book, and flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, with their hands raised in supplication on behalf of humanity.

Hagia Sophia

(Ayasofya Camii)
(90) 212 522 1750
Ayasofya Meydanı, Sultanahmet
Fatih Istanbul, Turkey

www.ayasofyamuzesi.gov.tr

OPEN HOURS:
09:00 – 19:00     Daily,  April – October
09:00 – 17:00     Daily, October – April

Hagia-Sophia_037 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul

 

Referred to as the Church of the Holy Wisdom for many centuries, the Hagia Sophia is the most important Byzantine structure and one of the world’s great monuments.  This incredible structure has been a church for 916 years, a mosque for 482 years and now a museum for for over 82 years!

The original cathedral is said to have been built by Constantine the great in 325, on the foundations of a pagan temple.  After a fire in 404, it was restored under the rule of Theodosius II.  Once again it was destroyed, this time in in the fires of the Nika Rebellion of 532.

The current structure  was built between 532 and 537 .  It was ordered and personally supervised by Emperor Justinian.  The architects, tasked with bringing to life the grandiose vision of the Emperor Justinian, were Anthemios of Tralles and Isidoros of Miletus – who were professors of geometry at the University of Constantinople.

The great dome was rebuilt after an earthquake caused its collapse in 557; then rebuilt by Isidoros the Younger; there were other partial collapses in 989 and 1346.

The main architectural feature is the awe inspiring 32-metre center dome pierced at the bottom by closely spaced windows and supported on pendentives (a triangular segment of a spherical surface) and two semi-domes. The jambs were lined in gold mosaic, thus reflecting golden light and creating magical illusion of a suspended dome floating above the visual splendor of the cathedral.

Hagia-Sophia_044 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul

above photo – note on the top of the Imperial Gate doors are embossed columns within an arch, this indicates the entrance to the temple.
Hagia-Sophia_048 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul   above photo -Imperial gate mosaic (886 and 912 AD) depicting Christ Pantocrator holding a book with the inscription “Peace be with you. I am the Light of the World.” Christ is surrounded by roundels portraying the Virgin Mary and the angel Gabriel. At Christ’s feet is a bearded emperor, who is believed to represent Leo VI asking for forgiveness.

Such a vast building at the center of court life required a significant body of people for both ceremonial functions and upkeep.  At the time of Justinian, the Hagia Sophia was staffed by 60 priests, 100 deacons, 40 deaconesses, 90 subdeacons, 110 lectors, 25 psalmists and 100 doorkeepers. (from Justinian’s Flee by Julian Rosen)

The Basilica was looted in 1204 by the Venetians and the Crusaders on the Fourth Crusade.  These invaders also replaced the patriarch of Constantinople with a Latin bishop.  The outcome was the division of the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. The crusaders took much with them and most of Hagia Sophia’s riches can be seen today not in Istanbul, but in the treasury of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.

After the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, Mehmed II had the Hagia Sophia morphed into the principal mosque of Istanbul.  With the addition of minarets, a mihrab (a niche indicating the direction of Mecca), a minbar (pulpit), and disks bearing Islamic calligraphy – the immense building also became a model for many of the Ottoman mosques.

The Ottoman conquerors continued a symbolic interpretation, fabricating an Ottoman past and a Muslim legend for the building.  Eventually all the human faces depicted in the church’s mosaics were covered in plaster due to the Islamic prohibition of figurative imagery.

In 1934 Atatürk secularized the building, and in 1935 it was made into a museum

Hagia-Sophia_095 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul   Above photo – Apse mosaic, depicting of the enthroned Virgin and Child, is the oldest of the surviving mosaics in Hagia Sophia.
Hagia-Sophia_094 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul   Above photo –  top left, partly damaged Archangel Gabriel mosaic.

 

The re-discovery of the figural mosaics after the secularization of Hagia Sophia was guided by the descriptions of the Fossati brothers, who had uncovered them a century earlier for cleaning and recording. The Fossatis also added the calligraphic roundels that remain today. They were commissioned to calligrapher Kazasker Izzet Efendi and replaced older panels hanging on the piers. (Holly Hayes)

The Hagia Sophia is so vast and full of information, it is one of the places that a guide can be invaluable.  However,  We were not very lucky, not only our guide but the other ones we eavesdropped on, seamed to be on a script of bad jokes and Turkish religious propaganda; continuously omitting legend and facts.  Hiring a local guide in sites like this one can expand one’s experience greatly.  We recommend contacting the history and architectural  faculties at local universities in order to get advice on how and where to hire a truly knowledagable guide.

 

Hagia-Sophia_090 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul

 

Hagia-Sophia_081 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul

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above photo “The name given, Seraphim, is Hebrew and means “burning ones” (plural; the singular form is seraph). They are the closest to the throne of God, and as such are flame-like, “For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb 12:29);
The six wings are arranged in a particular way: two pointing down (covering the feet), two up (covering the face), and two outstretched (in order to fly). The face was covered by a star when  it was converted into a Mosque; during our visit the restoration department was starting to uncover the faces.

Hagia-Sophia_142 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul
above photo – bottom left note the sculpted Egyptian key of life and the Freemasonry symbol, this mark is on each column’s capital

Hagia-Sophia_062 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul   The circle, where the Emperors would be enthroned

Hagia-Sophia_032 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul

Hagia-Sophia_133 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul

Hagia-Sophia_121 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul

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Hagia-Sophia_057 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul

Detail of the mosaic in the Vestibule of the Warriors (Circa X century) Virgin and Child between Justinian I presenting the church of the Hagia Sophia (above), which he rebuilt. and Constantine tine the Great holding a model of the city of Constantinople (Istanbul) as an offering  (below)

Hagia-Sophia_058 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul

Hagia-Sophia_165 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul   The Deësis mosaic detail, St. John the Baptist

Hagia-Sophia_040 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul

Hagia-Sophia_004 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul

Hagia-Sophia_021 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul   Mahmud I ordered a restoration of the mosque in 1739 and added an ablution fountain

Hagia-Sophia_028 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul

Hagia-Sophia_060 Hagia Sophia  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Sightseeing Museum Landmark Istanbul

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Sultanahmet Mosque – Istanbul, Turkey

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Sultanahmet Mosque

Sultanahmet Cami, 34122
Sultanahmet, Fatih, Istanbul, Turkey

www.bluemosque.co

OPEN HOURS:
daily except during daily prayers

Sultan_Ahmed_Mosque_003 Sultanahmet Mosque  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Temple Sightseeing Ottoman Landmark Istanbul

Visible from many spots around Istanbul, the Sultanahmet Mosque dominates the skyline. Commonly, it is known as the Blue Mosque, because of the blue ceramic tiles of different tulip designs, from Iznik city (Nicaea), that line it’s interior.

Sultan Ahmed I, had it built between 1609 and 1616 over the site of the ancient hippodrome and the palace of the Byzantine emperors.  Facing the Hagia Sophia, the Sultanahmet Mosque was desigened by royal architect Sedefhar Mehmet Ağa.

The  tablets on the walls are inscribed by the  17th century calligrapher Ametli Kasım Gubarımare with the names of the caliphs and verses from the Quran. One will also find beautiful examples of Arabic calligraphy by Seyyid Kasim Gubari.

The upper levels of the Mosque’s interior are dominated by blue floral drawings and stained glass windows. The coloured glass for the windows was a gift from the Signoria of Venice to the sultan.   Unfortunately time and poor taste have replaced many of the windows with modern versions with little or no artistic merit.

The mosque has six minarets each with three balconies (Called Şerefes).  This was unusual, and a cause of public unrest, as most mosques only have four minarets. Six was a number reserved only for Mecca.  As a good solution, more more minarets where added to Mecca – and the conflict was settled!

The design of the Sultanahmet Mosque is the culmination of over two centuries of both Ottoman and Byzantine temple development.  It incorporates Byzantine elements, from the neighboring Hagia Sophia, with traditional Islamic architecture.  This wonderful structure is considered the last great mosque of the classical period of the Ottoman Empire.

The Blue Mosque is an active religious site, so it’s closed to non worshipers for a half hour or so during daily prayers.   Before stepping in to Mosque, be sure to take off your shoes, women should bring a large scarf to cover the head and shoulders (but if you forget  you can rent one at the door).  In a kind of kitchy but fun actvity,  you can book  a photo shoot with traditional Ottoman Costumes in the Blue Mosque via the Ottoman dream studio.

The Sultanahmet Mosque is on the must see list of any good site-seeing tour of Istanbul.  It is a true marvel and a testament to builders of another age.  The complexities of its vaults and tiling is a site to behold.

Sultan_Ahmed_Mosque_005 Sultanahmet Mosque  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Temple Sightseeing Ottoman Landmark Istanbul

 

Sultan_Ahmed_Mosque_015 Sultanahmet Mosque  -  Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Temple Sightseeing Ottoman Landmark Istanbul

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museum-a-a-01 Iparművészeti Múzeum  -  Budapest, Hungary Budapest  Sightseeing Budapest Art

Iparművészeti Múzeum – Budapest, Hungary

Jaime-silva Iparművészeti Múzeum  -  Budapest, Hungary Budapest  Sightseeing Budapest Art   (above photo © Jaime Silva)

Iparművészeti Múzeum

(Museum of Applied Arts)
(36) 1 – 456 5100
1092 Budapest, Hőgyes Endre utca,
Budapest, Hungary

www.imm.hu.

OPEN HOURS:
2:00 pm – 6:00pm    Tuesday
10:00am – 6:00pm    Wednesday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday
10:00am – 10:00pm  Thursday

In 1872 the Hungarian Parliament decided to purchase “industrial Vienna’s” 1873 World Exhibition and in 1890 a contest was held to design a suitable building to house the collection and be home to the School of Applied Arts on Hõgyes Endre street.

First prize was won by a series of plans, put forth by architects  Ödön Lechner and Gyula Pártos, inspired in oriental forms.  Construction began in 1893 and the building was opened by emperor Franz Joseph on October 25th 1896 as part of the Hungarian State’s millenium celebration.

Today, the Building itself is the main attraction. It is another fine example of Hungarian secession splendor; a fairytale palace full of angles, stairwells, columns and details that enchant the eye at every turn.

3868648937_fc6c25c4c1_o Iparművészeti Múzeum  -  Budapest, Hungary Budapest  Sightseeing Budapest Art
3869430164_6c158c819a_o Iparművészeti Múzeum  -  Budapest, Hungary Budapest  Sightseeing Budapest Art
Sanne-Aabjerg Iparművészeti Múzeum  -  Budapest, Hungary Budapest  Sightseeing Budapest Art
(above photo
© Sanne Aabjerg)
3868649103_811a215b4d_o Iparművészeti Múzeum  -  Budapest, Hungary Budapest  Sightseeing Budapest Art
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aliester667 Iparművészeti Múzeum  -  Budapest, Hungary Budapest  Sightseeing Budapest Art
(above photo
© Ali Jackson )
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3869430094_661181b6fe_o Iparművészeti Múzeum  -  Budapest, Hungary Budapest  Sightseeing Budapest Art

The Museum itself has 5 departments: Metalwork, Furnuture, Textiles, Ceramics and Glassware. In each department you can enjoy equisit examplels of Art Nouveau crafts.  Here we glimpse the joy that defined the movement- the bringing of love, light, fancy and flare to many a mundane necessity.  I wish today’s designers would indulge in a a bit more fantasy and get over this post-modernist utilitarianism 🙂

An interesting fact, according to the literature,  is that this was the third museum to be built in Europe after the British Museum and and another in France (we’re trying to find a chronology, but having difficulty)

colored roof tiles from the Zsolnay porcelain factory, hand painted with plant motifs

y-DaveGray Iparművészeti Múzeum  -  Budapest, Hungary Budapest  Sightseeing Budapest Art   (above photo © Dave Gray )
by-ktylerconk Iparművészeti Múzeum  -  Budapest, Hungary Budapest  Sightseeing Budapest Art   (above photoMuseum Entrance © Kathleen Tyler Conklin)
So-Pumpkin-2 Iparművészeti Múzeum  -  Budapest, Hungary Budapest  Sightseeing Budapest Art
(above photo
© Smita )
y-olympi Iparművészeti Múzeum  -  Budapest, Hungary Budapest  Sightseeing Budapest Art   (above photo © Olimpi)
Glastonbury-003 Glastonbury Tor  -  Somerset, England UK West Country  UK Somerset Sightseeing Magic

Glastonbury Tor – Somerset, England

Glastonbury-003 Glastonbury Tor  -  Somerset, England UK West Country  UK Somerset Sightseeing Magic   path to the Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor

Somerset, England

 

Just hearing the name- Glastonbury- brings images to mind: Arthurian England and Avalon, magical druids, hordes of young people covered in mud listening to music.  In life, Glastonbury Tor truly is a magical place.  There is a reason that all these iconographic legends are attached to it.  When we caught our first glimpse of the Tor; we were struck by its perfection.  It appears as a hallucination, something too wonderfully perfect to be real.

As we climbed toward the tower on top of Holly Hill,  I couldn’t help but think of the hundreds of thousands of feet that have trod the same path over thousands of years.  Arthur trod here; for as long as man has been in England, he has walked these paths.  Saxon kings, Roman centurions, me.

The famous little town (10,,000 people) of Glastonbury is a bit hippie touristic these days.  What we did, and highly recommend, is to stop in and grab a picnic from the many organic food vendors who line the streets.  Definitely walk! Walk to the top of the High Street, make a right behind the abbey (duck in the back gate for a cute little garden and follow the signs up the back path towards the Tor.

We went totally hippie and brought divining rods (thanks Zoe!)- and I tell you they work!  It was amazing to watch them cross as we transgressed the ley lines and power spots.  One thing I found quite interesting, though in retrospect quite obvious, is that wherever I found a trampled oval from a resting sheep- I would invariably find a power spot where my rods would cross as fast as if someone grabbed them while in my hands!  If you didn’t bring a pair, grab one in any of the shops and head out to do some magic yourself – your in Avalon!

Glastonbury-007 Glastonbury Tor  -  Somerset, England UK West Country  UK Somerset Sightseeing Magic
Glastonbury-004 Glastonbury Tor  -  Somerset, England UK West Country  UK Somerset Sightseeing Magic

Lacock-005 Lacock Village - Wiltshire, England UK West Country  Wiltshire UK Sightseeing Lacock

Lacock Village – Wiltshire, England

Lacock-010 Lacock Village - Wiltshire, England UK West Country  Wiltshire UK Sightseeing Lacock

Lacock

Wiltshire  England

About two hours from London by car (the nearest railway station is at Chippenham 5k away) you find the most picturesque village i

n the West Country.  The village dates back to the 13th century, although the stone cottages where built in 18th century, and it looks like it!

During the Middle Ages Lacock became a centre of  wool trade and is now almost entirely owned by the National Trust. Wandering around Lacock gives a wonderful idea of what mid-millennial life looked like.  A small town surrounded by farms, fields & abbey.  Well worth the trip, there are wonderful little shops and eateries.  It is quite nice that while they cater to the tourist, they do not capitulate; staying true to their historic roots and ideals.  This is a functioning town that has life outside of your visit- and that makes it all the more special.

Lacock was also home to William Henry Fox Talbot- the father of modern photography- who invented the positive-negative film process.  He was also one of the last owners of the lovely Lacock Abbey, and it was his granddaughter Matilda Talbot, who presented the Abbey and village to the National Trust in 1944

The town itself is favorite as a location for period films including Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince, Pride and Prejudice, Cranford, The Other Boleyn Girl, Emma… for a complete list of films check the wiki.

So while wandering around the West Country, put Lacock on the short list of places to visit.
Lacock-004 Lacock Village - Wiltshire, England UK West Country  Wiltshire UK Sightseeing Lacock

Lacock-007 Lacock Village - Wiltshire, England UK West Country  Wiltshire UK Sightseeing Lacock

Lacock-005 Lacock Village - Wiltshire, England UK West Country  Wiltshire UK Sightseeing Lacock
Lacock-008 Lacock Village - Wiltshire, England UK West Country  Wiltshire UK Sightseeing Lacock