Hagia Sophia

Visiting Hagia Sophia was one of the main reasons we included Istanbul in our trip to Turkey. I couldn't miss the chance to see this historical treasure that I have been fascinated with since my first art history course. A cathedral turned mosque turned museum, Hagia Sofia (Ayasofa in Turkish) is a symbol of Byzantine architecture and the strength of the Ottoman Empire. And it is breathtaking.

A blend of the high ceilings of the Orthodox dome with Islamic artwork.

The Virgin and Child mosaic in the apse, now the museum exit, was one of the highlights.

The view from the balcony.

Details on the arched ceilings.

A mosaic tucked away in the corner of Hagia Sophia.

It's incredible that this far-flung place I read about in my youth is now a place that I have seen with my own eyes.