The view of the Blue Mosque from our meeting place.
Originally built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian (527-565), the church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus became a mosque in 1503. The locals named it Küçük Ayasofya Camii (Little Aya Sofya Mosque) because of its resemblance to that great basilica. There is an interesting story behind the original name of the church. The saints Sergius and Bacchus were Roman soldiers who died as Christian martyrs after being persecuted for their faith, and were chosen by Emperor Constantine as patron saints of his army.
Küçük Aya Sofya, originally the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus
Fortunately for Justinian, this continued into the reign of Anastasius when Justinian was under sentence of death, after being accused of plotting against the emperor. Anastasius dreamed that the two saints came to him and pleaded with him to spare Justinian's life, which he did. Justinian commissioned the church in 527, and gratefully named it after the two saints.
The roof is reminiscent of the Aya sofya
We can only imagine the original glory of the golden mosaics and marble decorations that adorned the walls. Justinian's Secretary, Procopius described it as "...more resplendent than the sun and everywhere it was filled with gold...". Unfortunately this is now all lost to us, although the present mosque is beautifully decorated, having been recently restored.
The decoration on the dome of the Küçük Aya Sofya Camii
The two hours of our trek flew by, and we ended by walking through the bazaar at the back of the Blue Mosque. I learned so much about photography on that trek, and even managed to experiment with different settings on my camera. I can't wait for the next photo club meeting!
Baby shoes for sale in the bazaar