We are always wondering how to keep our teens active and engaged, with plenty of physical action to tire them out. But let’s not forget open and curious minds, waiting to be filled with fascinating tales and images. Turkey is perfect for teenagers because of its history, art, and culture… but then it has ocean, mountains, and rivers too that offer so much outdoor excitement. Turkey is ideal for teens.
What does 14 year old Christian Kackley have to report on his visit to the magnificent Hagia Sofia? Read on…
“10,000 workers, working from sunset to sundown, 6 days a week, and it still took 6 years to finish. Well, that’s what happens when you’re building a church with the largest dome in the world at the time. Actually it was the second largest dome but even now, 1500 years later, it is still the third largest in the world. The dome is pushing so much pressure down that buttresses were built to keep the church standing, otherwise it would have collapsed. Even so, the church is still moving, you can see it by the leaning pillars.
Mosaics cover every surface, beautiful, colorful, mosaics, with golden backgrounds. The Turks recognized their beauty when they captured the city and didn’t destroy the mosaics…they painted over them with colorful yet dull designs. The Turks also recognized the beauty of the massive dome…they decided that all mosques were to be built with a dome.
The massive pillars holding up the enormous dome are decorated with intricate carvings at the top. The largest pillars in the church are from the temple of Artemis. At the top of each pillar, in the middle of the intricate carving is the sign of the craftsman that carved that pillar. What is extraordinary about Hagia Sofia and all the intricate things is that they were made by normal people, carpenters, farmers, bakers, they weren’t skilled carvers.
There are no stairs in Hagia Sofia, this is because the empress wanted to be wheeled up to her balcony. SO in the 6th century the first handicap accessible building was built.The empress was of course very important so she had bodyguards. At one time her guards were Vikings, they didn’t have very good manners and drew on her stuff. So now on one of the balconies you can see Viking graffiti from the 1;th century carved into the handrails.
The Ottoman presence can be seen all over the church. One example is the 5 enourmous medallions with Arabic writings hanging around the church, completely out of place. Also more Arabic writing in the form of mosaics cover the face of Jesus on the top of the dome. A small building made by the Ottomans shows the direction of Mecca. The church almost faces Mecca but not quite so the building is at an angle inside of Hagia Sofia, looking odd inside of this amazing church.”