The other day I was at an appointment at the VA (for hours!) and decided to catch up on reading a book I had downloaded called “Architecture 101” . Recalling my past trips to Europe, I loved to explore the gorgeous architecture that was built 100’s of years ago. The book is pretty easy reading and just touches on the major developments for the various eras. I found one period in particular piqued my interest, the Byzantine Era (fifth and sixth centuries) and the structure called Hagia Sophia in particular. I am more familiar with the Baroque and Rococo eras but I don’t know much about this period. I don’t remember learning anything I found interesting in history class (albeit was a long time ago, however I taught myself sign language when I was maybe 10 years old or there abouts because my dad’s friend was deaf and I thought it might be interesting to learn how to communicate even though he could read lips. Then yesterday I was watching a movie and these kids were signing the alphabet and I remember all of the letters!) Anyway during this period the Christians were quite powerful and began building beautiful impressive churches for the people to congregate. The Hagia Sophia is built in Constantinople (now Istanbul) Turkey. A couple of days later I found a documentary on the structure and describes the work done by architects and engineers evaluating the structure to find out if it will withstand a major earthquake after all of these years (approx. 1300 years). Did I mention it is situated on a major fault line? In the documentary they stated that the Statue of Liberty could stand inside with room to spare. And there are no pillars in the main body of the space under the dome. Kind of defies logic.
I have seen this building in photos or movies but had no idea the amazing features of this structure. It has endured a few earthquakes with no extensive damage with exception of an earthquake that struck 20 years after the structure was originally completed. The son of one of the original architects took on the repairs and added some more structural supports. When the Ottomans conquered Turkey in 1453 they modified the Church to reflect the Muslim faith by covering up some of the Christian mosaics as well as adding some medallions with Arabic scriptures.
On my way to the VA there is Greek Orthodox church that I pass and it is very blingy with a gold dome and all but now comparing it to Hagia Sophia I can see there are many elements that are quite similar. This h
as really opened my eyes to the world around me a little more.
If you would like to view the video on the Hagia Sophia, it is posted on Kanopy.com. With a Los Angeles Public Library card you can sign in for free to view.
Here is the link: https://www.kanopystreaming.com/product/hagia-sophia