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Ayasofya (Haghia Sophia) Museum

Inside View
Inner panoramic view of the Hagia Sophia museum
Angles
Angle picture in the historic museum
Inlay Mosaic
Virgin and Child flanked by Justinian-I and Constantine-I
General View
South inlet panoramic view of the Hagia Sophia
Candles
Central dome candles of the museum
Hagia Sophia Museum
Panoramic view of Hagia Sophia Museum

Haghia Sophia Museum is located in Sultanahmet across from Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Considered one of the finest architectural works in the world, it was originally built as a church. Construction began during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine 1, but was only completed in AD 360 during the reign of Constantine II.

The first Haghia Sophia was partially burnt during an uprising. It was repaired by Theodosius II and opened to worship in 415, but was burned to the ground during another public uprising in 532.After the revolts, Emperor Justinian determined to build an unparalleled place of worship and entrusted two architect-engineers from Anatolia, Isidoros and Anthemios, with the task. Building materials were brought in from all the Mediterranean countries. In addition, the columns of a number of Pagan temples in Anatolia, including the Temple of Artemis, were dismantled and used in the building. The construction lasted five years, and Haghia Sophia was once again open to worship. The structure standing today is that which was built as a church by Justinian. Haghia Sophia was occasionally damaged, but was repaired and additions were built. Despite the changes, its essence remains untouched.

Haghia Sophia experienced its darkest days during the Latin occupation, it was looted, damaged and a number of its valuable furnishings were removed and taken to the churches of Europe. When the city once again passed into the control of the Byzantines, the church was in terrible condition. Using limited resources, efforts were made to restore it. It was then badly damaged in the earthquake of 1344 in which parts of it, including a section of the dome, collapsed. The increasingly impoverished Byzantines were unable to repair it and it remained closed for a period. Through the levy of special taxes and collection of donations, the church was once again repaired in 1354. Despite these efforts, Haghia Sophia was not to return to its full glory after the Latin occupation until the conquest of Istanbul. Immediately following the conquest of the city, Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror went directly to Haghia Sophia. But it was in ruins. He decided on that day to convert the church to a mosque, and thus a new period began for Haghia Sophia.

From the first day it became a mosque, Haghia Sophia became a place of enormous significance for Muslims living within the borders of the Ottoman Empire, as well as others. For hundreds of years it has symbolized and been a reminder of the conquest of Istanbul.

The Conqueror created various pious foundations with the aim of ensuring revenue and constructed a mihrab (mosque niche), minaret and medrese. Haghia Sophia was shown special attention after the conquest, and the additions built on its grounds turned it into a great ‘kulliye’ or religious complex. One minaret was added by Sultan Beyazit II and a second by Sultan Selim II. Sultan Mahmud I added a reservoir for ablutions, a primary school, a soup kitchen, a library, a chamber for sultans and a mosque niche. The mosaics were completely plastered over, previously, only the faces had been covered. During this period a number of sultans and members of royalty were buried in the complex. They include: Sultan Selim II, Sultan Murad III, Sultan Mehmed III, Sultan Mustafa I and Sultan İbrahim. Haghia Sophia underwent minor repairs during the Republican period, but was left relatively alone during the war years. American scientists obtained permission from the Turkish government to uncover the mosaics in 1932. While these works were underway, Haghia Sophia was changed to a museum in 1934 and opened to the public in 1935. Haghia Sophia presently functions as a museum.

The dome of the Haghia Sophia, believed to represent the infinity of the cosmos, is most impressive. To think that this dome was built in the 530s contributes even more to the importance of the mosque. Despite being damaged, the mosaics found within Haghia Sophia are among the most precious in the world. The additions of the Ottomans, far from spoiling its original beauty, have only reinforced its magnificence. The calligraphies, on plates 7.5 meters in diameter, the stone work, which gives it a lace-like appearance, and the glazed tiles are all priceless. The primary school, tombs, fountains and reservoir which make up the complex are also of major significance from an architectural standpoint.

Nowadays, Hiaghia Sophia has also gained interest from readers of Dan Brown who is the famous author of the worldwide best-seller “The Da Vinci Code”. At his last novel named with “Inferno” begins in Italy’s Florence, then moves on to Sienna and ends in Istanbul, with approximately 100 pages devoted to ancient sites in Sultanahmet including Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern, the Galata Tower and the Spice Bazaar.

Ever since the novel’s release, Istanbul’s appeal and draw to the writer has been mentioned regularly in the world press. “Inferno picks three of the world’s most strategically significant, antiquity-rich cities as its settings, and Langdon makes a splendid tour guide and art critic throughout,” writes The New York Times.

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Iznik Ceramic & Pottery

Decanter - Iznik Design Ceramic
Decorative ceramic decanter
Plate - Iznik Design Ceramic
Tree of Life design (it symbolizes the life)
Ceramic Egg - Iznik Design Ceramic
Handpainted decorative ceramic egg
Bowl - Iznik Design Ceramic
Decorative ceramic bowl with flower design
Fish Palte - Iznik Design Ceramic Plate
Fish of Anatolia's seas and freshwaters
Jar - Iznik Design Ceramic
Classical iznik design ceramic jar
Iznik Design Ceramic Bowl
Decorative Ceramic Bowl with flower design

The second half of the 16th century which is named as the classical age of Turkish art during Ottoman rule, was the most magnificent period for ceramics as well as the other handcrafts. The white paste products in ceramics which had started with the blue and whites had reached the summit of their developmental phases during 1549. The three lugged lamp, which originally belonged to the Omar Mosque in Jerusalem and which is now displayed in the British Museum, bears the production date and place on the inscription panel on its pedestal. This inscription reads Iznik: 1549. The most important final phase of the Turkish ceramic art also started with a three lugged lamp made for the Süleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul which was completed in 1557. This example is on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. One of the richest collections of the world related to that period is kept in the Tiled Kiosk, Istanbul which has been converted into the Museum of Turkish Building Tiles and Ceramics. This third stage of our building tile and ceramic art continued until 1608.

 

iznik-design-ceramic-plate-1Iznik workshops applied underglaze technic during this period of extraordinary success which started with the Blue-and-Whites. This period attained a unique level in worldwide tile and ceramic art with its design and colour scale. The geometrical design of the Seljuk inheritance was completely dispensed with in the embellishments whereas the palmettes and leaves were still used. The plant motifs of the classical age were drawn on the white undercoats. A superficial abstraction is dominant in the naturalistic plant designs. The main examples of Nature motifs were carnations, tulips, plum blossoms and branches in full blossom, pomegranates, peonies, broken leaves, rosettes, roses, bunch of grapes, acanthus leaves, vases and birds with black, thin countermines.The white, tile paste prepared with a great amount of silica is given form on the pottery lathe, then it is dried in the sun and baked in the oven at a degree of 800-1000+C. When it cools, a white, thin kaolin undercoat is applied. The decorations aredrawn and coloured on this undercoat and then it is reovened to fix the colours. It is then glazed with thin, transparent lead-glass and the final baking takes place. The cobalt or sead blues, turquoises, manganese violets, chrome greens, slightly raised coral and tomato reds and their various tones on white ground which are painted underglaze, give a colour drunkenness to the admirers as well as the artist himself. There are no cracks on the glaze. Motion and dynamism are in full balance and symmetry both in the designs and the colours. Each motif is a whole in itself whereas it is also an unseparable part of the eternal whole. Celi and Nesih styles of calligraphy are often seen in these embellishments. The decorated surfaces of the Ottoman polychrome pottery made by underglaze technic are embellished with white and pale blue over either indigo or light brown. They are made with raised and coloured undercoat and black underglaze colouring is also seen. Thus, they have a special characteristic with these qualities. The coloured undercoat decoration technic under transparent, colourless glaze, has been successfully applied in building-tiles as well as pottery, as can be witnessed by an example displayed in the Tiled Kiosk Museum, Istanbul. This technic is another development of that period. According to documents and books giving information about that period, forty five of the sixhundred artists working for the court were painters and designers.

iznik-design-ceramic-jar-1The composition of decorations to be applied on the inner or outer surfaces of artistic architectural works were prepared by those artists. The preliminairy sketches were presented to the court by means of the head architect and the necessary approval was obtained. Imperial edicts and orders take place among the archives documents related to the Iznik tile workshops. In these documents dated 1575, 1578, 1588, not only the list of ordered products, but also the inventory of the tiles and pottery stocked in the depots are mentioned. Furthermore the names of the production supervisors and the artists are also written. The workshops that gave priority to the orders of the court and its close circles were more than 300 during that period. Those workshops met from time to time the demands for export and the foreign orders. The export port was Lindos in Rhodes. Some European researchers have been misled by the Rhodes stamps on the ceramics and they have mentioned these as Rhodes tiles and pottery in their publications. Some of these ceramics also bear the coats of arms of foreign families. It is understood from the samples that in addition to the Iznik production center, the workshops in Kütahya and Haliç, Istanbul successfully produced ceramics. The recession in Iznik and the decadence of the workshops started in the beginning of the 17th century. The colours lost their vividness. The coral and tomato blues darkened. Quality deficits and cracks on the glazes began. The attractiveness was lost. The net lines of the contours were dispersed. The political regression was felt most at the Iznik tile workshops among all the handcrafts. The decadence was completed when financial support ceased and the producer families were scattered away. The later attempts to revive did not give successful results. The level of the second half of the 16th century was never attained. Since the production technic details were kept secret, and the technical development knowledge was not mentioned in written documents, an important gap of information was formed for the following generations. The attempts for revival required thoroughly new efforts and these efforts could not be a substitution for the traditional training passing from one generation to the next.

You can see related products at: Iznik Ceramics & Tiles

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