Holy place is never empty
Hagia Sophia, here to stop, the Lord Ordered the peoples and kings, Because your dome, according to the witness, As a chain suspended from heaven… Where did your Builder generous, When the mind and thought is high, Placed the apses and Exedra, Pointing them to the West and East? O. Mandelstam “to Those who see this temple, it seems exceptional. Those who hear about it – unsurpassed,” — said once Procopius of Caesarea. I was lucky: I stand at the gates of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul in a crowd of fussy tourists. Hagia Sophia (Hagia Sofia) — a Grand pile of cubes and semicircles, as if taken on their shoulders the heavy burden of centuries. I confess I went to Istanbul for him. But once I arrived, everything was slow. Worried like a high school girl in love on a first date. I was afraid: too much I was waiting for, and suddenly disappointed. But, entering the vaults of Hagia Sophia, just froze in delight! Believe me: the ambassadors of Prince Vladimir did not exaggerate at all, who reported that they were unable to understand whether they had visited earth or heaven. More than a Millennium has passed since then, but I, living in the twenty-first century, am ready to quote their words! For a thousand years, Hagia Sophia was the largest temple in the world, a thousand years admired her beauty shocked witnesses, a thousand years, the architects sought to comprehend the architectural genius of Isidore of Miletus and anthem Of thrall. Descriptions are useless. It is a must see! I have surpassed you, Solomon! Thinking about the Cathedral of St. Sophia, involuntarily think about the magic of the number three. The current temple on this site is the third. The first — a marble Basilica — was built under Emperor Constantine the Great (the same who made Christianity the state religion of Byzantium) in 337 and burned down in a fire. What was he? Excavations at the walls of the present temple reveal the outlines of the foundations, carved friezes depicting lambs. In the flames of the uprising nick died and the successor of the first Basilica. Actually, in commemoration of the victory over this grandiose revolt and for the glory of the miraculously preserved throne, the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire Justinian decided to build a third, hitherto unseen temple. For its construction were invited two famous Greek architects — Isidor and Anfimiy, by the time proved their skills, creating a domed Basilica of Sergius and Bacchus (it has survived to this day and is located in the center of Istanbul). Work on the construction of Hagia Sophia began on 23 February 532 and lasted only five years. But during this time at the construction site daily worked 10 thousand workers, divided into two groups. That of them, which will work faster and more conscientiously, was promised a great reward. An ingenious method has paid off and the results we can see today. The dimensions of Hagia Sophia are truly fantastic: 7570 square meters with a length of 100 meters and a height of almost 56! And this is at a time when there was not even the most primitive construction equipment! Then the scaffolding was not invented yet. As the walls grew, a huge earthen hill was built around the temple. Justinian “project” was perhaps the most expensive in the thousand-year history of Byzantium. Only the construction of the pulpit and choir absorbed the entire annual income of the then Byzantine province — Egypt. And for the construction of the whole “symbol of the Golden age” Byzantium spent three annual income of the entire Grand Empire. You bet! The Imperial decree ordering to bring the most beautiful antique marble to Constantinople was sent to the cities and villages. So Hagia Sophia became a true treasure trove of marble of a planet: white — out of Preconiza, light green — from Karystos, red white from ASOs, pink with streaks of Phrygia. From the temple of the Sun in Baalbek, a magnificent porphyry was brought here, and from the temple of Artemis in Ephesus (the ancient wonder of the world) carved columns of the rarest green marble were delivered. However, all fantasies of nature, the creators of Sofia was not enough! For the construction of the altar, a completely new material was used: rubies, sapphires, Jasper were thrown into the molten gold… Striving for perfection, Justinian dreamed of turning the walls of the temple with sheet gold. Thank you, there were sages who advised him not to tempt descendants. This decor is the shortest way to the death of architectural creation. I think that the walls, lined with gold, on the aesthetic impact on the viewer clearly lost to the living and changeable radiance of gold mosaics, lined in domes and arches of genius and, alas, nameless artists. Going under the vaults of the completed temple, Justinian thanked the Lord and exclaimed: “I have surpassed you, Solomon!”. (Before the creation of Sofia temple built by king Solomon in Jerusalem, was considered the most beautiful temple of mankind.) Well, you can’t argue with the fact. Fifteen centuries have passed, and the genius of architects is still visible and irrefutable. It is not surprising that the most brilliant architects took a Millennium (!) to understand how this thirty-three meter (!) vault and why the sunlight pouring from the Windows of the dome drum, makes the bulk of the dome “soar” like an alien flying saucer. Everyone who came here today is shocked by the Grand scale of marble spaces, connected by the melodious harmony of columns and arches. Facts Hagia Sophia, built as an Orthodox Patriarchal Cathedral, has been the largest Christian Church in the world for more than a Millennium. In the IX century on the divine service at Sophia of Constantinople was attended by the Duchess Olga and a little later the ambassadors of Vladimir the Red Sun. The striking beauty of this Church not least contributed to the adoption of Orthodox Christianity in Kievan Rus. Within the walls of Hagia Sophia was one of the most important events in the history of Christianity: it was here on June 16, 1054 Catholicism separated from Orthodoxy. Until 1204, most of the greatest Christian shrines were kept under the arches of this temple: the lid of the Holy Sepulchre, the gifts of the Magi, the cross found by Emperor Constantine and his mother Elena, the shroud of Turin. Chariot drawn by four horses, the work of the brilliant Greek sculptor Lisip, now adorning the Cathedral of St. Mark in Venice, was taken out of Hagia Sophia. Byzantium — the first power to adopt Christianity as a state religion – fell at the hands of “brothers in faith.” The crusaders who seized Constantinople plundered the city for fifty-six days. But here’s what is interesting: the leader of the robbers Venetian Doge Enrico Dandolo wished to be buried under the arches of Sofia. The marble tombstone with his name still makes us think about the inscrutability of the ways of the Lord. The conqueror who broke into Constantinople proudly rode under the arches of Hagia Sophia on horseback, but was so impressed with the beauty of the temple that he did not allow his soldiers to destroy it. At his command, the magnificent mosaics were carefully covered with a thin layer of plaster. Hagia Sophia became a mosque and the only temple in the world, from top to bottom washed with rose water. In such a fragrant way, Muslims cleaned it before adding four minarets and “decorating” the interior with grandiose shields of donkey skin with inscriptions from the Koran. The beautiful Sophia of Constantinople served as a model for the construction of most mosques of Istanbul. And today the temple is one of the most visited tourist sites of the planet. Legends of Hagia Sophia has been surrounded by legends since its inception. Chroniclers claimed that in a dream Justinian and then was an angel who told about the features of the building. So three Windows above the altar became a symbol of the life-giving Trinity. The legend says that the whole history of mankind is encrypted in the marble walls of the temple. It is said that the Archangel Gabriel appears at one of the miraculous columns of the Northern wing. And in the right part of the temple, the one that has been closed for several years by scaffolding, there is a small niche, leaning against which you can hear a soft noise. Legend tells that at the time when the Muslim soldiers of Mehmed the Conqueror broke into the temple, the priest at the altar led the service. And when the curved sword was already raised above his head, he stepped to the wall and disappeared into it. They say that today this priest continues to pray, intending to return to the temple as soon as the descendants of Emperor Constantine enter it. In the Western side of the upper floor near the window is a glowing stone. Marble slab, brought from Iran, has the ability to absorb sunlight during the day and Shine in the dark. Weird? But no more than the existence of a window, from which even in the most unbearable heat pulls cold, or crying column, on the copper surface of which all the time dripping drops of water, like someone’s inexhaustible tears. There’s a hole in this column. There is a belief that if you put your finger in it, turn it 360 degrees and say your most cherished desire, it will certainly come true. Somewhere on the railing of the choir there is an inscription-graffiti in runic letters, left by the Viking, who reached the final point of the famous way from the Varangians to the Greeks… So how many amazing secrets keep these endless spaces of the naves, polished millions of steps to a mirror Shine? And what could tell the virgin Hodegetria guide, affectionately looking at the enthusiastic crowd from the “heaven” of Hagia Sophia? Due to its existence in the distant Kiev, the Sophia of Kyiv, and in the more distant Novgorod Sophia in Novgorod… Leaving this magnificent temple, and to the beat steps in flash memory hammered Mandel line: And the wise spherical building of Peoples and ages will survive. And Seraphim echoing sob Not offended by the dark gilt.