Places of Spirit in Istanbul, Turkey

August 27, 2008

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Hagia SophiaIn 2007, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Istanbul and visit two breath-taking and well-known sacred spaces – Hagia Sophia (the Church of the Holy Wisdom) and Sultan Ahmed Mosque (commonly called the Blue Mosque).

Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th century as a Byzantine church. In the 15th century, when Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, the building was converted into a mosque. Today, Hagia Sophia is a museum that welcomes visitors from around the globe. Nearby is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, which was constructed in the 17th century and continues to serve as a place of prayer.

Blue Mosque

I was moved by the overwhelming sense of the Spirit in these spaces and in Istanbul generally. Prayer is clearly interwoven into everyday life there; I was especially moved by the Call to Prayer in Istanbul, which happens five times a day. In addition, the sense of scale and antiquity drew me in and heightened my sense of the continuing nature of the Mystery of God unfolding throughout human history. My time in Istanbul was a time of broadening my own horizons and deepening my experience of the Sacred.

Elizabeth Devereaux is an artist whose studio is in Chico, California.