The Turkey Diaries: Aya Sofya
Jeremy and I had decided to save all of the touristy destinations for our last day in Istanbul and I knew I wanted my first stop to be the Aya Sofya (or known as the Hagia Sofia in America). It started out in the mid-500's as an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral and then a few hundred years later, under the Latin Empire, it became a Roman Catholic Cathedral. Then boom, it's back to being an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral before becoming secularized in 1453 and converted into a mosque. Still with me? Now the Aya Sofya stands as a museum and it's amazing seeing all of the history behind its many transformations. You can see all of the Islamic features, such as the minarets, that make the Aya Sofya what it is today; but at the same time, some of the plaster faded to reveal the older catholic mosaics.
Ali & Kris Houndstooth Blouse (similar)
Gap Ankle Zip Jeans
Ruffle Loafers c/o Pink & Pepper
I was also blown away by the architecture. Before I arrived, a co-worker at my office had lended me her Istanbul travel guide which raved about the creation of the Aya Sofya's famous, massive dome. There's windows all along the base of the structure and there are even more windows that also line the base of the dome. All the natural sunlight streaming into the mosque is breath-taking and the chandeliers turn into decorations rather than sources of light.
Usually I don't care too much for tourist hot spots, but this is a place you just have to see in person regardless of the lines or the crowds.