Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lost grandeur of the Native Peoples


of Asia Minor.

The Greek peoples had inhabited Asia Minor for 2000 years before they were finally conquered by the invading Muslim Turks*, harbingers of the Religion of Peace. In the mid 500's AD, these now-Christian Greeks, inheritors of Old Rome, built the largest and most astonishing  church in the world in Constantinople, the last capital of the Empire's thousand years.

With the minarets added by the conquering Turks.

 As it was, with forecourt and, to the right, the baptistry.

Hagia Sophia --Holy Wisdom-- is now a museum, having been reduced to service as a mosque from 1453 until the secularizing Ataturk created Turkey out of the post WWI ashes of the Ottoman Empire.
The current successor of Constantinople's patriarch, and his Greek church in Turkey, is holding on by his fingernails. Thus the eventual fate of all non-Muslims under the rule of the totalitarian Religion of Peace. (Ask those other Native Peoples under Islam, the Egyptian Copts, how things are working out for them under the Arab Mohammedans.)




The enormous dome


Here's screenshots from a rare barebones reconstruction --the original would have been full of mosaic images and precious metals and lamps under its enormous dome


...and people-- of what Justinian's masterpiece would have looked like in its prime**.



In the middle of the space was the Bema, the elaborate pulpit used for reading the scriptures, chanting the psalms, and preaching.



An Orthodox reader*** suggested that the ambon was probably turned the other way, with the longer walkway close to the altar. See the reconstruction of the church of St Polyeuctus, also in Constantinople:


Or St Eufemia in the same city.




In the apse at the east end was the enclosed Sanctuary, surrounded by a low wall and pillars, with curtains and doors, the altar inside under a ciborium or baldacchino, and in the curve of the apse, amphitheatre-like seating for the many priests, with the throne of the Patriarch at the center.













The icons on the wall grew more prominent over time until now the Eastern churches influenced by Constantinople have an iconostasis, a wall of images, separating the sanctuary from the rest of the church. Although the central bema, as an architectural piece, has disappeared, much of the Eastern liturgy still takes place in the center of the space as well as behind the icon screen.



Recently opened St Nicholas Orthodox Church in Amsterdam



Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles with fully developed icon screen 


There is a legend that when the early Russian Prince Vladimir wanted a new religion to unify his people and kingdom, he sent emissaries to the Latin Catholics, the Greek Orthodox and the Muslims. The Orthodox won out because the visitors had attended the liturgy in Hagia Sophia and declared that they thought they were in heaven itself.



*Would it not be politically correct to call the Greeks the "Native Turks"?

**To be fair, Hagia Sophia had seen hard times before. Aside from earthquakes and iconoclasts, the disastrous 1204 looting by the Latin Crusaders took a heavy toll, from which the city never really recovered.

***And if you're interested, check out his site, with a tour of old St Peter's in Rome at the end, as it would have looked prior to the Renaissance structure that replaced it.

7 comments:

Trevor said...

Don't forget another set of conquering hands that have roughed over the Hagia Sophia - the Vikings.

USMaleSF said...

I checked out the Viking connection and found this. Apparently the Vikings never sacked the city or the church (?), but as you say, did leave some graffiti on the walls!

"In 860, an attack was made on the city by a new principality set up a few years earlier at Kiev by Askold and Dir, two Varangian chiefs: Two hundred small vessels passed through the Bosporus and plundered the monasteries and other properties on the suburban Prince's Islands. Oryphas, the admiral of the Byzantine fleet, alerted the emperor Michael, who promptly put the invaders to flight; but the suddenness and savagery of the onslaught made a deep impression on the citizens.[23]

In 980, the emperor Basil II received an unusual gift from Prince Vladimir of Kiev: 6,000 Varangian warriors, which Basil formed into a new bodyguard known as the Varangian Guard. They were known for their ferocity, honour, and loyalty. It is said that, in 1038, they were dispersed in winter quarters in the Thracesian theme when one of their number attempted to violate a countrywoman, but in the struggle she seized his sword and killed him; instead of taking revenge, however, his comrades applauded her conduct, compensated her with all his possessions, and exposed his body without burial as if he had committed suicide.[24] However, following the death of an Emperor, they became known also for plunder in the Imperial palaces.[25] Later in the 11th Century the Varangian Guard became dominated by Anglo-Saxons who preferred this way of life to subjugation by the new Norman kings of England.[26]"

Wikipedia.

Arimathean said...

Thanks for sharing these fantastic reconstructions of Hagia Sophia!

One correction: The pulpit-like structure in the nave is called an ambo in Byzantine terminology. For us, the bema is the raised platform at the east end of the church on which the sanctuary is constructed. Jewish synagogues and Syriac churches do have a bema in the middle of the church. (In its original Greek usage, a bema is just a raised platform.)

The ambo in these pictures is backwards. The longer extension should point towards the altar, not the narthex.

Anonymous said...

To the author: Yeah, well i am Muslim and I'm damn proud of the clean way of life Islam offers , and if you don't like you can go to hell, you stupid ignorant piece of shit.

DrAndroSF said...

Thanks, Mr Muzzie, for providing yet one more example of Mohammedan civilization and intellectual superiority.

Happy to be a kuffar.

Damianos Kefalas said...

Sorry to say it, but Islam is hardly a "clean" lifestyle. And before you ask, yes I have traveled to Turkey, and yes, I entered the Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom of God. And I cried. I walked through the greatest of all cathedral's and cried at how much Islam had desecrated it. I cried for the Ecumenical Patriarch, who doesn't even feel safe in his own city because of Muslims (hand grenades have been thrown into the Patriarchate, and nationalists have burned His All Holiness' figure, and prosecutors bring His All Holiness to court for practicing religious ceremonies). There is no freedom in a Muslim nation. None.

Anonymous said...

To the Anonymous Muzzie:

And that is why civilization despises you.

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