Hagia Sophia Museum and Basilica Cistern


Dating back to the 6th Century, the Hagia Sophia Museum (Holy Wisdom) is one of the most impressive and important buildings in the world!  Hagia Sophia was converted from a church to a museum in 1935.  It was the largest church ever built until St Peter’s Basilica was constructed in Rome 1000 years later.  It is the most visited site in Turkey with over 3.5 million visitors in 2014!

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I visited the day after seeing the Blue Mosque and was surprised at how awe-inspiring the Hagia Sophia is in comparison!

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It literally leaves you speechless!

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That’s gold in the ceiling!

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It is so stunning and I loved taking photographs inside…the way people’s shadows made shapes on the floor.  Maybe you know what I mean, that some places you’re much more excited to be taking photographs in than others.

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I took a lot more photos, but you know how it is…you can only put so many up of one place!

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Like the day before, I had our group get an early start to help avoid crowds, and after touring the Hagia Sophia, we headed across the street to the Basilica Cistern, the largest surviving Byzantine cistern in Istanbul.  It was constructed using 336 columns,  and the symmetry and sheer grandeur of its size are quite breathtaking!  You’ll see large fish swimming in it.  It was so dark down there, it was difficult to get a decent photo.

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This is where you come downstairs to view it.

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Istanbul is filled with national treasures!

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