Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

May 23rd, 2015 | General | No Comments »

© Dennis Jarvis/cc-by-sa-2.0

© Dennis Jarvis/cc-by-sa-2.0

Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom“) is a former Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi) in Istanbul. From the date of its construction in 537 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.

The church was dedicated to the Wisdom of God, the Logos, the second person of the Holy Trinity, its patronal feast taking place on 25 December, the commemoration of the birth of the incarnation of the Logos in Christ. Although sometimes referred to as Sancta Sophia (as though it were named after Saint Sophia), sophia being the phonetic spelling in Latin of the Greek word for wisdom, its full name is “Shrine of the Holy Wisdom of God”. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have “changed the history of architecture”. It remained the world’s largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I and was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site, the previous two having both been destroyed by rioters. It was designed by the Greek scientists Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles.
 

The church contained a large collection of holy relics and featured, among other things, a 15-metre (49 ft) silver iconostasis. The focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly one thousand years, the building witnessed the excommunication of Patriarch Michael I Cerularius on the part of Pope Leo IX in 1054, an act which is commonly considered the start of the Great Schism.

In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, who ordered this main church of the Orthodox Christianity converted into a mosque. By that point, the church had fallen into a state of disrepair. Nevertheless, the Christian cathedral made a strong impression on the new Ottoman rulers and they decided to convert it into a mosque.The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels and other relics were removed and the mosaics depicting Jesus, his Mother Mary, Christian saints and angels were also removed or plastered over. Islamic features – such as the mihrab, minbar, and four minarets – were added. From its initial conversion until the construction of the nearby larger Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque of Istanbul) in 1616, it was the principal mosque of Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia served as inspiration for many other Ottoman mosques, such as the Şehzade Mosque, the Süleymaniye Mosque, the Rüstem Pasha Mosque and the Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque. Hagia Sophia remained a mosque until 1931, when it was closed to the public for four years. It was re-opened in 1935 as a museum by the Republic of Turkey. Haghia Sophia is currently the second-most visited museum in Turkey, attracting almost 3.3 million visitors annually.

Read more on Hagia Sophia, HagiaSophia.com and Wikipedia Hagia Sophia. Photos by Wikimedia Commons.



German Museum in Munich

May 20th, 2015 | General | No Comments »

© deutsches-museum.de

© deutsches-museum.de

The Deutsches Museum (which means German Museum) in Munich, is the world’s largest museum of science and technology, with approximately 1.5 million visitors per year and about 28,000 exhibited objects from 50 fields of science and technology.

The museum was founded on June 28, 1903, at a meeting of the Association of German Engineers (VDI) as an initiative of Oskar von Miller. A few months before the 1903 meeting of the Society of German Engineers, Oskar von Miller gathered a small group who supported his desire to found a science and technology museum. In a showing of support this group spontaneously donated 260,000 marks to the cause and elected a “Provisional Committee” to get the ball rolling. Its official name is Deutsches Museum von Meisterwerken der Naturwissenschaft und Technik (English: German Museum of Masterpieces of Science and Technology). It is the largest museum in Munich.
 

The main site of the Deutsches Museum is a small island in the Isar river, which had been used for rafting wood since the Middle Ages. The island did not have any buildings before 1772 because it was regularly flooded prior to the building of the Sylvensteinspeicher.

In 1772 the Isar barracks were built on the island and, after the flooding of 1899, the buildings were rebuilt with flood protection. In 1903 the city council announced that they would donate the island for the newly built Deutsches Museum. The island formerly known as Kohleninsel (coal island) was then renamed Museumsinsel (museum island). In addition to the main site on the Museumsinsel, the museum has two branches in and near Munich and one in Bonn. The Flugwerft Schleißheim branch (aviation museum) is located some 18 kilometres north of Munich’s city centre close to Schleißheim Palace. It is based on the premises of one of the first military airbases in Germany founded just before World War I. It comprises the old air control and command centre as well as modern buildings added in the late 2000s after strong endorsement from Franz-Josef Strauss, the then prime minister of the state of Bavaria, who was a passionate flyer.

Read more on German Museum, muenchen.de – German Museum and Wikipedia German Museum. Photos by Wikimedia Commons.



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