Stepping inside Hagia Sophia is stepping inside history. Meaning 'Holy Wisdom' or 'The Wisdom of God,' Hagia Sophia was first an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople. In its nearly 1500 years of existence, the building has been burnt down and rebuilt twice. It has also been converted twice, once from Eastern Orthodox to Roman Catholicism; once from Catholicism to Islam, being made a mosque in 1453. But, today, it has seen one final conversion. Since 1931, Hagia Sophia has served as a museum, one steeped in interreligious history and now available to people of all faiths.
Inside, there is now modern Islamic art along the floors. Above, Qur'anic scripture, the largest ever written, can be seen on massive wooden circles painted black. They add to the overall grandeur of the domed roof and vaulted ceilings with their ornate detail and fading frescos. Above the portal to Mecca still lasts a painting of Mary holding the child Jesus. Beside them is Archangel Michael. On another wall is Christ with Mary and John the Baptist. Christ has his hand raised. It is the Hour of Judgment. People gather around for photos. People whisper. A breeze blows. The Blue Mosque can be seen through an open window, and blue tiles lay hidden in shadows.