Click on Image Below
Three weeks ago I stood at the Southeast end of the Hagia Sophia transfixed by the ornate apse of the building. The reverent juxtaposition of Islamic and Christian elements fascinated me. Christian mosaics are adjacent to Islamic decorations. Stained glass windows stretch to the unbelievable dome overhead.
In a world focused on ideological contrast and conflict, this struck me as an amazing agreement on sacred ground. So I was even more amazed to notice that the Mecca-pointing Mihrab was nestled just off center from the orientation of the Christian apse itself.
I was giddy and fascinated about how this could be. Coincidence might be part of the answer: Mecca happens to be Southeast of Istanbul, and the Christians, for reasons of their own, had built the basilica oriented toward the Southeast. But I am certain that there is a deeper story and would love to understand the answer!
Students of religion and architecture: Do you have an answer to the mystery?