Istanbul's Aya Sofya - built by Roman Emperor Justinian

Istanbul's Aya Sofya - built by Roman Emperor Justinian

First a church, then later a mosque, and now a museum – the brief history does little to convey the Aya Sofya’s majesty, arguably Turkey’s most beautiful building. Standing under the mighty central dome is humbling: the soaring structure seems to float above the rest of the building, while the light filtered through each of the dome’s 40 windows illuminates the nave’s golds and blues all around you. Elsewhere the building houses an unmissable collection of mosaics – check out the fabulous, millennium-old mosaic of Christ, Empress Zoe, and Constantine IX – the detail of the figures’ costumes is extraordinary, the colours still splendid.

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