The 1st Puzzle updated: What’s hidden beneath Hagia Sophia?
When Ataturk turned Hagia Sophia into a museum in 1934 and gave the powers of the Sunni Caliphate to the Turkish parliament, he enraged many in the Islamic world. Indeed, some are still trying to resurrect the Caliphate. That has been one of the main objectives of many Islamist extremists for the past eighty years. To understand why, just imagine what the reaction would have been if Mussolini had turned the Vatican into a museum and had then ordered the Pope to leave town.
The Hagia Sophia we see today is, despite the rebuilding work carried out after regular earthquakes, the building that was consecrated on the 27th December 537 by the Roman Emperor Justinian. It would be the greatest church in Christendom for a thousand years, until St Peter‘s in Rome was completed. And after the city was captured by the Ottomans, it was the greatest mosque in the world for nearly five hundred years.
There is no other building in the world with anything like that history. Hagia Sophia’s massive dome, its unprecedented proportions, were believed by many to have been the work of the divine. Its architecture influenced mosques and churches worldwide. Its grandeur was said to have led Russia to convert to Orthodox Christianity, not Catholicism. Relics such as fragments of the true cross, the undefiled lance, the most sacred tunic, and the God-bearing winding sheet (this was probably the Turn shroud) were only some of its treasures, until the city was ransacked by a Catholic army during the Fourth Crusade. That list was taken, by the way, from a military harangue delivered to Byzantine troops on behalf of Constantine VII (905 – 959).
Underground architectural features were well known at the time the first Hagia Sophia was designed. Both the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, constructed in 326-330, and Old St. Peter’s in Rome, both constructed around the same time, have extensive underground areas. Indeed, they are the most sacred parts of these buildings. Justinian’s Hagia Sophia was designed by Isidore of Miletus and mathematician Anthemius of Tralles. Both were well known for their interest in tunnels. There are also major underground structures, including the Basilica Cistern, in the vicinity. Did they simply forget to design underground levels for Hagia Sophia? Or were they hidden later for a reason?
Isn’t, I hear someone say, the tomb of the Doge of Venice located in Hagia Sophia? Yes, it is, but it wasn’t constructed until 1205, and it’s not impressive. It’s a slab in the floor of the upper gallery. But was that it’s original location?
Tomb of Dandolo, Doge of Venice, Hagia Sophia.
When Constantinople fell to the Ottoman armies in 1453, it would have been clear to the guardians of Hagia Sophia that the great church, the Vatican of the Christian Orthodox world, would be desecrated and probably turned into a great mosque if the city fell. Those in charge before the city walls were finally overrun, on Tuesday, 29 May 1453, had motivation and plenty of time to conceal many things, to sow many deceptions. Ottoman intentions had been clear for years.
So, why hasn’t there been a proper modern investigation, a geophysical survey using ground penetrating radar and the latest magnetometer equipment?
It is true that there has been some small-scale explorations under Hagia Sophia, tunnels and cisterns have been discovered, but isn’t it time for the whole area to be properly explored and documented? The publicity, and increase in tourists alone, would justify the costs. What is everyone afraid of? Hagia Sophia has been a museum for seventy five years. In The Istanbul Puzzle you will find one fictional answer to these questions.
The photographs you see below, and the one above, of the newly uncovered tunnels under Hagia Sophia, will become part of a documentary film. This documentary needs sponsors. You can follow this link for details and more images: http://bit.ly/11QEb5x
If you are interested in finding out what really lies under Hagia Sopha, this project will help to promote a proper search of the whole area. I can’t wait to see what happens.
Click here to go to the 2nd Puzzle: The Lost Book of Magic.