Turkey

Istanbul might be our favorite city in the world. Where else can you see Byzantine churches, mosques by Sinan that will take your breath away, and be transported back to the time of Constantine?

videos + essays

Hagia Sophia as a mosque
Hagia Sophia as a mosque

After the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, the sultan repurposed this church, adding slender “pencil” minarets.

Mimar Sinan, Süleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul
Mimar Sinan, Süleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul

This mosque was the crowning achievement of architect Sinan’s career and a trophy of Ottoman imperial grandeur.

<em>The Alexander Sarcophagus</em>
The Alexander Sarcophagus

Alexander the Great conquered the known world, but who was this monument for and what does it symbolize?

<em>Deësis (Christ with the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist)</em>, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Deësis (Christ with the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist), Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

When the most important church in the East became a mosque, this mosaic was covered but three faces survived.

<em>Theotokos mosaic</em>, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Theotokos mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

The size and solidity of this Virgin and Christ reaffirmed the power of images in the wake of Byzantine iconoclasm.

Hagia Sophia as a mosque
Hagia Sophia as a mosque

After the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, the sultan repurposed this church, adding slender “pencil” minarets.

Mimar Sinan, Rüstem Pasha Mosque, Istanbul
Mimar Sinan, Rüstem Pasha Mosque, Istanbul

Unlike other of Sinan’s mosques, this one is covered with tiles, sits above shops, and is accessed from a stairway.

The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii)
The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii)

With its stacked domes and six minarets, the Blue Mosque dominates Istanbul’s skyline—and the nearby Hagia Sophia.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

The golden dome of this vast building appears suspended from heaven. It has withstood quakes, conquest, and crusades.