Istanbul, Constantinople

As a famous Four Lads tune plays in your mind, try to imagine this one great city with two names (not to mention Byzantium).

Some highlights from the city:

The Hagia Sophia – the church (rebuilt and renovated by Emperor Justinian the Great in the 530’s) that became a mosque and then a museum. The name means “holy wisdom” in Greek, and the site is impressive inside and out:

057 Hagia Sophia 1

032 Hagia Sophia 1

Also built by Justinian the Great was the Basilica Cistern and other water collection systems underneath Constantinople:

080 underground cistern 1

When the Ottomans captured Constantinople and renamed it Istanbul, they built their own impressive structures, including this winter palace for the sultans of the empire. It is on the beautiful Bosphorus Strait:

127 Ottoman sultans' winter palace 1

Here’s a final shot of an icon I had been eager to see – of Christ pantokrator (all-powerful), in the Hagia Sophia. The letters on each side are abbreviated forms of “Jesus Christ” in Greek. The lines over the top of both words indicate the abbreviations, with just the first and last letters of both words remaining. This was a common early form, used in copies of the New Testament and in Christian art, known as nomina sacra:

063 Christ pantakrator Hagia Sophia1

It was another good day, with good weather and great things to see.

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Filed under Church History, Turkey

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