Cyclists pedaling to Istanbul to promote Hagia Sophia
İZMİT – Doğan News AgencySome 30 cyclists have been pedaling from the Turkish capital city of Ankara to Istanbul to promote the “Hagia Sophia Exhibition with Documents and Pictures” organized by the Turkish Historical Society (TTK).
The professional bicyclers had a break in the northwestern province of İzmit on July 20 to introduce to locals the exhibition before they reach Istanbul on July 23, finishing a 520-kilometer route.
“The Hagia Sophia is an artefact of ours which has a very big history. All started when we started thinking of ways on how to spread this to the public and promote it more effectively,” said Salih Yağızatlı, the project director of “We’re Bicycling for Hagia Sophia-Hagia Sophia Bicycle Tour.”
“Then we planned to introduce the Hagia Sophia city by city. We are trying to promote Hagia Sophia with our t-shirts and brochures in each city. And we merged this activity with sports, he said.
The route covers the Marmara province of Yalova and Heybeliada, one of the Princes’ Islands south of Istanbul, before it reaches Hagia Sofia, one of the historical architectural wonders that still remains standing today, has an important place in the arts world with its architecture, grandness, size and functionality.
“Then historical documents, which haven’t seen the light of day, will be exhibited at the exhibition,” said Yağızatlı.
The current structure was constructed by Isidoros and Anthemios, renowned architects of their time, on orders by Byzantine Emperor Justinianos (527-565).
Istanbul was occupied by Latins between 1204 and 1261, during the Holy Crusades, when both the city and the church were damaged. The Hagia Sophia was known to be in bad condition in 1261, when Eastern Rome took over the city again.
Following Ottoman Sultan Fatih Sultan Mehmed’s (1451-1481) conquest of the city in 1453, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque.
It was converted into a museum on the orders of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey, and has been functioning as one since Feb. 1, 1935, welcoming both local and foreign visitors.