Volume 47, Issue 4
When I look at a masterpiece, I lose myself in it. I take a journey, find an escape, a chance to get away. “If you get lost, you can always be found.” I hear the echoes encircling this magnificent space, as my curious self begins to wander. What is it about this space? What makes me recall it after my body has crawled out of its shelter through space and time? Why does it leave a mark that neither space nor time can erase? Why does my heart fly right back and become lost in memories long after the plane has reached a far-away land? What makes this piece of architecture a masterpiece?
Could it be the high walls? The gigantic dome? Could it be the tall minarets visible from throughout this ancient city? Could it be the stone so permanently sitting on the sacred ground through all these centuries? Could it be the years it holds on its shoulders? Or the countless generations of lit-up faces that have stared at these shining murals with admiration? The noise that has filled every single corner as the stories have been told and retold?
Could it be the way these walls were laid down on this site claiming it as their own, opening their arms on these hills, staring proudly at all the dwellings within this crescent city? Is this the greatest building in this breathtaking Mediterranean polis, born and raised with greatness? Could it be the culture it entails? All the wars? The struggles to take over this prized possession? The many transformations it has undergone, yet remaining unshakeable? First nonexistent, then a church, then a mosque, and now a museum displayed for admiration to all the wondering eyes, the eyes of those who travel from every corner of the globe to experience this historical place through their own lenses.
Could it be the wind the Mediterranean sends its way, as little pecks on the cheek of this beautiful child? Could they be kisses sent by God, taking the form of light, wind, or rain? And the moonlight that shines upon it every night as the birds sing a melodious lullaby? And the bedtime stories that go to sleep with it every night as the whole city begins to close its eyes, only to be awakened by the first ray of sunshine, followed by countless crowds of people who impatiently wait to step foot inside these enormous doors. Could it be the sun? The moon? The wind so playfully touching its facade? Did the gods themselves design it? Is that their holy presence I am feeling as I wander inside and stare at that dome? That dome.
And that name? Hagia Sophia. What does that even mean? Goodness? Legend? Masterpiece? I should have brought a dictionary with me. Next time. Will there be a next time? Will my heart fly right back here and get lost in memories even after the plane has reached a far-away land? A journey, an escape, is there more to see? What could these walls be hiding? Would they let down their pride and unravel the mystery? Did the God of Architecture craft this? Was it just a coincidence? It cannot be. Maybe it saw the goodness, and the goodness revealed herself in taking the form of this masterpiece? What is it about this place that neither time, nor space can erase?