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Sultanahmet & Hagia Sophia



From Eminonu Square we went to Sultanahmet Square, the Hippodrome of Constantinople, the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire, to see Hagia Sophia. The course of the old racetrack has been indicated with paving, although the actual track is some two metres below the present surface.

Hagia Sophia ("Holy Wisdom", Turkish: Ayasofya) is a former patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum, in Istanbul, Turkey. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. It was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, until the completion of the Medieval Seville Cathedral in 1520.

Hagia Sophia is featured in the 1963 James Bond film From Russia With Love where Bond's lover Tatiana Romanova slips Bond small blueprints of Istanbul's Russian consulate where Bond needs to steal the Lektor communication device. The Hagia Sophia is also seen in background shots in the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough.

The Hagia Sophia also appeared in the Istanbul level of the game Driv3r. Though unnamed, the museum could be easily recognized as it was accurately recreated for the game. The interior however, is inaccessible.

As seen in the photo, one of the minarets (at southwest) was built from red brick while the other three were built from white marble; of which the slender one at northeast was erected by Sultan Bayezid II while the two larger minarets at west were erected by Sultan Selim II and designed by the famous Ottoman architect Sinan. The reason for the varying dimensions and mass of the minarets was to counterweight the main structure's mass and distribute the weight uniformly. This application by Mimar Sinan was one of the earliest seismic and geotechnical engineering efforts in the world. Latest research shows that without the counterweight of the minarets, the main structure would tend to collapse.

From Eminonu Square to Sultan Ahmet Square you can take Metro or you can walk in an ancient mood.

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