Saturday, August 6, 2011

Solomon I have surpassed thee...

The above words were reputedly spoken by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537 when he entered into the newly finished Hagia Sophia Church as it was then. Having never entered the Jewish Temple of Solomon maybe I'm not qualified to judge but I suspect that Justinian was correct. Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453 proclaimed it to be a mosque which, in the end turned out to be a good thing for the mosaics, they were plastered over which preserved them for us now.

This is one of those views of Istanbul that must to be painted. It was once a church, then a Mosque, then a musem and I think some would like it to be returned to it’s mosque status. Actually, for that matter, there’s a lot of others to the west of the city who would like it to be returned to it’s church status. This goes further to opening up a whole set of issues about who owns the past, let’s not go there now.

Just for the record, I would rank this as one of the most stunning, awe inspiring buildings I’ve ever been in. It is absolutely massive. As one who has visited more than my fair share of cathedrals, mosques and temples, this really is impressive. Apparently it used to appear raised about the actually level of the surrounding land and was entered by mounting steps going up to its doors. Now of course buildings surround the structure but it still dominates the skyline of the old city.

The picture is watercolour helped along with masking fluid and finished off with my ‘scrub’ technique to soften it up.
Check it out on

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