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Hagia Sophia – by a fifteenth-century Englishman

Hagia Sophia, the Great Church of Constantinople/Byzantium/Istanbul, is one of the most extraordinary buildings in the world. Dominating the waterway that seperates Europe from Asia, at dusk populated by a Byzantine legion of mice, yet still a struture of collosal beauty and awe — with a reputation that spread to fifteenth-century England, if this contribution by the anonymous author of The Three Kings of Cologne is anything to go by. He’s writing within a few years of its conversion to a mosque…

‘… Saint Sophie … is above all the churches of all the world passingly much and large, so that a passing great ship with her veils spread abroad may easily turn her in her and compass … ‘ [spelling modernised, grammar left untouched]

You can almost see the ocean filling it, lapping up against those echoing marble galleries, and a galleon turning within.

… I guess ‘veils’ means ‘sails’, but isn’t ‘veils’ nice?

… ‘Saint Sophie’, of course, is Hagia Sophia, Greek for ‘Holy Wisdom’, a  mystical way of addressing the Virgin Mary … but that’s another story…

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Frances Mascarenhas
    February 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Advert for DFS sale popped up below your reflections – great minds of C21 focus on how to make this happen .What might have been the irritants for mediaeval man/woman ? Grafitti in Maes Howe is now a tourist attraction. In the rebuilding of Berlin , some feel that some buildings of the Soviet 40 years there should be retained.

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