Istanbul, or rather for Christians – Constantinople is where we toured today. We started at the gym of the city called Hagia Sophia. This magnificent edifice was the most beautiful and largest church in the world for 1000 years before St. Peter’s was built in Rome.
The Muslims took it over and defaced all the Christian art and turned it into a mosque. It is now a museum. It is a little depressing and heartbreaking to walk through this beautiful building and think of what it was like in its glory days when people entered it and thought they had just arrived at heaven. No wonder the pagans rushed to join the church to be part of this glorious people of God.
Next we visited the Church of Irene which means in Greek the Church of Divine Peace. This is the oldest church in Constantinople built by Emperor Constantine and it was never turned into a mosque although today it is a museum. This was the church where the 2nd Ecumenical Council of the church took place.
Next we went into the Blue Mosque and saw what it was like inside a mosque as we listened to the eerie call to prayer (listen for yourself if it’s not eerie as you listen to it). I often say to Americans who hear this call to prayer of the Muslims from the minarets of the mosque, “I hope you like it because it is coming to a town near you.”
We also visited the exotic Spice Market and had Mass at the Cathedral of Istanbul called the Church of the Holy Spirit.
Lunch was at the Hamdi restaurant which served a wide selection of traditional Turkish foods. Everyone loved it. Enjoy the movie!