Hagia Sophia • Divine Wisdom
Established circa 380 AD, the Hagia Sophia was built in a record time of less than five years. Heralded as the largest Cathedral in the world at one point, this architectural marvel has seen an electric set of changes in its tumultuous history: first as the grand church of the Byzantine Empire, then as a mosque after the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans and lastly as a secularised museum after the founding of the republic of Turkey.
Nothing encapsulates the DNA of Istanbul (even Turkey at large?) better than the Hagia Sophia. Beyond it’s sacred lights and grandiose structure, an obvious observation is the wholesome and peaceful juxtaposition of both Islamic and Christian history, with Christian mantles neatly completing Islamic calligraphy. The Hagia Sophia, a symbol of peace and religious tolerance, is paid homage by the members of the two biggest faiths — Islam and Christianity — who have learned to coexist prosperously. This is what the world needs to see more of.
As the Turkish election looms near (tomorrow, in fact) here’s to hoping that whoever wins the mandate can rightfully uphold this quintessential DNA. People in Pakistan (and elsewhere) can definitely learn a thing or two.