Scaffolding removed at Hagia Sophia

ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency | 1/25/2010 12:00:00 AM |

Scaffolding erected as part of various renovation projects at the Hagia Sophia over the past 17 years has now been removed.

Scaffolding erected as part of various renovation projects at the Hagia Sophia over the past 17 years has now been removed.

Listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site and one of Istanbul’s most important historical structures, the Hagia Sophia has undergone a comprehensive renovation process with a 3.3 million-Turkish Lira allocation from the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture agency. As part of the project, the 55-meter-high scaffolding that obscured views of the main dome for more than 15 years has been dismantled.

A press conference featuring the agency’s Executive Board Chairman Şekip Avdagiç and Hagia Sophia museum director Haluk Dursun was held to mark the removal of the scaffolding. Avdagiç said the six-winged angel figure that was uncovered in the northeastern dome during the restoration has again attracted the world’s attention to the museum and revealed the grand history of the Hagia Sophia.

The chairman added that visitors would now be able to see the 700-year-old angel face without visual interference from the scaffolding. “The Hagia Sophia Museum, which is visited by 2.5 million foreigners every year, will continue to inspire people with its new face from now on,” he said.

The second stage of the work includes the restoration of the museum’s gallery floor, the fountain of Sultan Mahmut I and a school library (mekteb-i sibyen). There are further plans to restore eight famous signboards, on which the names of the Prophet Mohammed; his grandsons Hasan and Hüseyin; and caliphs Ebubekir, Ömer, Osman and Ali were written.

With much-needed façade restoration also scheduled, the museum will be further cleared of cement and plaster.

[HH] Seraph mosaic

The six-winged angel mosaic, which measures 1.5 meters by 1 meter, was last seen by Swiss architect Gaspare Fossati, who headed restoration efforts at the museum between 1847 and 1849, and Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid. Experts were surprised to see the mosaic, believed to date from the 14th century, was so well preserved.

The six-winged figure is though to depict a seraph, an angel described in the biblical book of Isaiah.



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