Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Colors of Light

Have you ever stood in front of something so grand and so beautiful you can't absorb it all? You know that you are there -- physically looking at it -- but it is more surreal than real. Even if you pinched yourself, the reality of the thing of beauty would not sink in. I had that feeling most of the day today.

The Hagia Sophia ("Holy Wisdom"), built in the 530's is a structure that changed architecture forever. It was the largest cathedral in the world until the Seville Cathedral was built in Spain -- it is still big. The exterior of the church-turned-mosque-turned-museum is beautiful enough, but the real treasure is the interior. I was in complete awe the entire time I spent inside - a good two hours, I think. I wanted to cover every square inch of the space with my feet and my eyes -- everywhere I looked I saw more amazing details, and everywhere I walked changed the perspective of things so that I wanted to look at it all over again. The paintings on the walls and the mosaics and the windows were beautiful, but what captivated me about the place was the feeling of the light. It was golden -- warm and magical. The chandeliers hanging from the ceiling danced in the air just above my head, giving the impression of a low, intimate ceiling -- a ceiling of light. The amber feeling in the light enveloped me and made me feel like I was being held in a warm embrace.

Interior of the Hagia Sophia
Golden light in the Hagia Sophia

The other building I spent time in today (with Katherine and James) was the Blue Mosque. It is much newer than the Hagia Sophia as it was built in the early 1600's. The actual name of the building is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, but it is commonly called the "Blue Mosque" because the 20,000 blue tiles and blue paint in the interior fill the space with blue light. Where the Hagia Sophia felt warm and golden, the Blue Mosque felt calm and blue. After looking around, the three of us sat beside one of the massive columns and took in the space in silence. The air had a close, quiet feel to it that made it very easy to be in an attitude of prayer. 

Interior of the Blue Mosque

James, Katherine, and I in the blue light

Colors of light. 
Gold and blue. 
Warm and calm.

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