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Current time:0:00Total duration:6:48

Video transcript

we think of Hagia Sophia as a Byzantine church but it also has this whole other life after the invasion of the Ottoman Turks and we tend to forget about that we tend to focus on this amazing Byzantine building and we forget about its afterlife in history from 1453 until the establishment of the Turkish Republic when it became a museum buildings are living things may accrue meaning and they change as societies around them change and this is just such a stark example and because it was the most important Byzantine church it was an obvious thing for conversion because mosques and churches are spaces for congregations changing a few key things allow you to repurpose the building almost immediately Constantinople it was the primary city in the Byzantine East scenes this treasure and within the city the real jewel was this church and as the Byzantine Empire had been in financial decline in shrinking in terms of territory this was one of the few things that got maintained and was still in good condition where lots of other things in Constantinople weren't in great shape when the Ottoman Turks took it in 1453 I've read that the population had plummeted and because of that a lot of the smaller churches walls weren't in great shape but this building still was so it was an obvious thing to convert and also it's got prime position you can see it's very close to the Bosphorus and it's also where a lot of key buildings later on are going to be built by the Ottoman Turks so it's unsurprising that this was the first thing that was adapted and modified and because it was adapted because it was turned from an Orthodox Church into a mosque it survived it becomes a symbol of authority because if this was the symbol of the Byzantine empires religious authority in the Emperor's Authority this then by converting it having it become a mosque is the symbol of the Sultan's power in the city and throughout the empire it has a huge symbolic quality of sovereignty so what evidence do we have of that conversion the most obvious things are the covering up the mosaics but they remove some of the later paint and plastering so you can see them the mosaics were covered up not because the Muslims don't recognize Christ as at least a prophet but because of the prohibition of figural imagery especially within a religious space certainly that and also Christ when he is depicted he's not depicted as Christ he's Jesus and he's a prophet and so he doesn't appear with Mary he doesn't appear as christ pantocrator' which is this very typical image in eastern orthodox churches and so you can't have him being shown in those ways because those are very Christian depictions of Jesus so while we may not have figure images we certainly have lots of symbols probably the most obvious thing when you come in are the enormous bits of Arabic calligraphy calligraphy is perhaps the most important Islamic art Arabic and the word is critical to the foundation of Islam because the belief is that Muhammad recited the words of God as told to him directly for so Arabic is very important and what's interesting to me of course is that a lot of these round rules which were later additions there in Arabic so a lot of the community couldn't read them even though they were Muslim this still would have been a foreign language course cuz they have a spoke Turkish so when you walk into Hagia Sophia you walk in and you proceed towards the apse and everything looks normal until you notice that the mihrab is off-center now the min Rab is the niche at the far end of the building that is a way of pointing towards Mecca and it's really the most important thing because it has to tell you direction you're supposed to pray and the thing is it's off-center here because that's the direction of Mecca in fact I notice that not only is the min Rob off-center but all of the architectural elements that encase it that is the platform on which its plays and the staircase to the right the minbar are all oriented together but in opposition to the church that surrounds it you don't notice it unless you're really paying attention we also have the platform for the machine to make the call to prayer within the mosque and then we also have the Sultan's Lodge all of which are oriented more towards the South than East the way the building is oriented so you have these interior additions which reorient the space in a very powerful way I want to go back to the Sultan's Lodge because it's just magnificent oh it's gorgeous the Sultan held a very special position he's the political authority but around developed a cult of personality he was viewed as being divinely appointed and so his person is sacred and there were very strict protocols that developed in terms of who could talk to him and so in many ways later on in the Ottoman Empire he gets very isolated but this is how he would come and worship so he has his own entrance and then he has his own elaborate procession way and there's a whole balcony that he would be able to walk into everyone could see him but no one could touch him and also it's elevated it's not on the same level he's on a different plane above and then probably the most obvious addition are the incredible minarets outside these four very tall thin pencil minarets pencil minarets and domes are what everyone comes to associate with Ottoman architecture they're the quintessential features of mosque architecture but also of the Ottoman urban landscape so by pencil minaret you're distinguishing them from the thicker minarets that you see maybe in Egypt and the purpose of the minaret was as a high place to call the faithful to prayer in some senses it's very functional the machine goes up and he calls everyone to prayer it's a much better position from doing that than on the ground your voice can travel much further today we can see the speaker's the megaphones they woke me up this morning but they also provide you with a great opportunity to define your skyline by building in a distinctive style it asserts who you are and what your identity is but it also helps all of us today who are looking at these buildings go pencil minarets must be ottoman so it's a really clear distinguishing feature because you don't get them in Central Asia you don't get them in Iran you really only get them where the Ottoman Empire had a presence there are two earlier ones one built by Mohammed the second and then one by seen on the famous architects who built many of the great monuments in Istanbul and the Ottoman Empire and then we have two more that were added by Murad the third assaultin from the late 16th century the number of minarets you have is significant the Sultan Ahmed mosque or the Blue Mosque which is right opposite Hagia Sophia has six which was a bit of a controversy when it was built because that's number Mecca had and the Blue Mosque is such a great example of the kind of impact that hiya Sophia as a mosque had on the architecture throughout the city you can't underestimate the importance of Hagia Sophia both in terms of the use of domes and its plan and as we go and look at other moss and as you look at different Ottoman creation here you'll start to see that no matter how much there is innovation and there is huge innovation Hagia Sophia is always somewhere lurking in the back of an architect's mind I can see why