Hagia Sofia Golden Mosaics

IMG_3273It’s very satisfying when you see what you expect to see, without being disappointed, isn’t it?

I realised as I arrived in Istanbul that there were many things about the city, and about Turkey and its history of which I was embarrassingly ignorant, and it was reading the guidebook and simply looking at what was around me that revealed the extent of my failings.

One of the things, however, that I knew I wanted to see was the golden mosaics in the Byzantine churches.  We only made it to Hagia Sofia, but I was not disappointed, and that is remarkable given that half of the nave was filled with a complex of densely constructed scaffolding.  Much of what is impressive about the deconsecrated church is its sheer size, the height of its domes, and the smooth patina made by thousands of feet over the centuries on the flagstones on the floor, but it is in the upstairs galleries where the fragments  of the mosaics remain.

Apparently the plaster laid over them in the 19th century have both saved them from destruction, but also make them difficult to preserve and see today.  But what you can see is exquisite, with such detail in the colour of the shading of the eyes and the cheeks, and the decorations in the clothing on the figures.

It amused me no end that when I took a couple of photos with my phone it put one of those little squares around the faces of Mary and the baby Jesus inviting me to ‘tag’ them with the name of one of my friends or contacts.  It’s a technological step too far for me…….

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