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Trabzon Hagia Sophia Museum


Trabzon Ayasofya Cami Mimarisi

Hagia Sophia, which was used as a mosque today, was built on a terraced high hill on the west entrance of Trabzon. It has a different location and character than other religious buildings in the same period in Trabzon and its region. What was the aim of the church, which is still far away from the city center, to be built entirely outside the city in the 13th century? To the west of the church, it is difficult to think of the 30-meter-tall tower rising as a separate mass from it, as a mere bell tower. According to some researchers, there was a monastery in this area, and in the monastery where the astronomical education was carried out, the church and the tower formed parts of the complex.

It can be said that such a high tower was built to observe the celestial bodies necessary for astronomy education. The existence of a monastery here has been proven by the remains of some structures that can be seen in the museum area today. These explanations may correspond to the question of why the building was built outside the city. Even though there is no other historical onstruction in the area, it is still unclear why other units of the monastery have not survived. The tower, which has a three-storey compartment, was renovated after the third floor level. When the function of the monastery is over, we learn that the tower is used as a fishing light for a while, then it functions as a bell tower and is used as a minaret.

Trabzon Ayasofya Camii Bahçesi - Ortahisar / TRABZON


Most people living in Trabzon, Ayasofya meaning of the name, you can immediately explain sincerely: the daughter of the king’s Sophia jumped from the tower and killed his relatives, very sad for this, “Ayy, Sofia,” he cried. In fact, the name of the Hagia Sophia, the Greek “hagios” meaning “holy” and wisdom “sophos” is the combination of the roots and “holy wisdom” is used to mean a word. This name has often been used for structures where religious education has been observed. Hagia Sophia in Trabzon, Istanbul for the first time in the 6th century Byzantine civilization of the masterpiece of the same name of Ayasofya has no other connection to carrying the same name.

With the support of Georgian Queen Tamara, she and her relatives built a separate kingdom in Trabzon in 1204, and they continued their existence by paying tax for the Anatolian Seljuks for approximately 250 years. Komnenos built many churches and monasteries in the city. The church of Hagia Sophia is the only building that has reached its present day by preserving most of its features. When examined carefully, it has many unique features.

The building, in cross-section, gives a square cross plan with three apse on the east apse and west, north and south portico. The dome with a fairly high center is similar to the churches of the Caucasus (especially Georgia). Inside, three naves, separated by two columns, end with an apse in the east. The roof of different heights is covered with domestic tiles.

Trabzon Ayasofya Cami

It has a good stonework bearing the influences of Islamic art as well as Christian art. The most spectacular facade is the southern entrance. Here, the surface between the arch and the roof over the Roman column is filled with completely-most relief depictions. In the middle, the subject of “creation” has been studied in a wide horizontal belt. In the scenes developing from right to left, first the creation of Adam, then the creation of Eve (destroyed), the deception of Eve by Satan who was represented as a serpent, and the giving of the forbidden fruit to Adam are described as high relief.

Since these scenes, which have developed in the middle of the large arch opening in the middle, are symbolized in heaven, many trees and branches are symbolized by heaven. In the scenes to the left of the arch, an angel opens the door to heaven and fires Eve with Adam. With the scene of their sad and regretful life outside of heaven and the death of Kabul by Abel on the far left, the generation of expression ends. On top of this face, the roof of the deaf arch under the roof of the emblem of the Kingdom of Komnenos opened the wings, according to the left has an eagle motif. The upper edge of the deaf arch, a bunch of grape bunches and leaves, is a very pleasant, narrow embossing belt.

Trabzon Ayasofya Camii Açık Müze - Ortahisar / TRABZON

The end of this belt on both sides of the belt ends with a lion head roof (water mites). Grape bunch and vine branch represent abundance and fertility in Anatolia since ancient times. Just below the coat of arms, a horizontal rectangular panel is made with a filling technique. On a black background, there are pomegranate branches in white and two dove motifs turned back to back. To the right of this panel there is a double-armed cross on a vertical panel, the same technique, and another on the left. There is a window opening in the form of a four-leaf clover just below the pigeon panel. Boards on both sides of the window are similar to mosaic in red, yellow and white colors and they contain geometric ornaments in the filling technique.

A crescent in the middle of the panel on the right and 7-star stars in the eye. The crescent ends are turned to the right. Smaller in the upper center of the board on the left – this time it is left to the left – crescent and star. This motif is the emblem of the Kingdom of Pontus (BC 280-30), which was established 15 years before the church’s construction, including the central Amasya and Trabzon.

Today is very similar to the symbol of our flag. On the same surface, there are also winged horses and human-headed birds of Greek mythology that are individually scattered. When we consider the low relief of round medallions in both outer sides of the big deaf arch together with the exquisite Seljuk ornaments, it is necessary to say that the southern façade of the church of Hagia Sophia gives a Trabzon chronology until the Ottoman period or it is a synthesis of civilizations living in Trabzon.

After the conquest of Trabzon in 1461 by the Ottomans, the building was converted into a mosque and in the Russian invasion in 1916 it was used as an arsenal and a military hospital. The building, which was used as a mosque again with the end of the Russian occupation, was restored to be converted into a museum – with the suggestion of the General Directorate of Foundations – on the grounds that it had no community and had a high value of art work. During the rigorous restoration that lasted for 5 years between 1958 and 1962, the Turkish experts as well as the British experts were involved with the support of Edinburgh University.


In the years when the building was converted into a mosque, an oval plate with an expression from the Quran can be read on the inner side of the vault on the south entrance. This universal message of the Qur’an is as follows: “All the shrines are for Allah. So do not believe in anyone other than Allah.”

Trabzon Ayasofya Cami Kulesi

When we proceed to examine the other facades of the building, we again encounter different details. On both sides of the west entrance, there are muqarnas, which are completely Islamic art. The columns of these columns are also reused and one is a corinthian style leaf and the other is a dove-backed pigeon. Pigeon motif with column head, Venice It is very similar to a series of columns used in the Marko church. Although there are rumors that it was brought from Venice, it is not possible to say anything about it.

The single column head, which is contemporary with the structure, is on a double column at the north entrance. These headdresses, embellished with a simple cross motif, show a very simple workmanship. Perhaps this is to balance the simplicity, the pillars on the surface of the wall of the pillars again, very fine workmanship, geometric patterned two Seljuk medallions. On the outer surfaces of the apses in the east, a horizontal wiping zone with a simple workmanship is circulated to the window top of the apse in the middle. There is an eagle coat of arms on the southern facade, as in the southern façade.

Those who look at this front with a more careful look may notice some text and ship patterns engraved on soft cut stones. It is possible to remove many rowing and sailing ship models from these patterns. This ingenuity (!) Belongs to the Christian sailors who come to Trabzon port for commercial purposes. Every sailor who came to the church for worship preferred to leave his name or small messages as a moment by drawing the model of his galaxy. Sometimes these messages were left on the frescos in nooks, leading to further destruction.

Trabzon Ayasofya Camii Namaz Kılan İnsanlar

The interior of the building is decorated with ornamental elements. The mosaic of the floor which is under the dome has a very good quality and several different techniques have been used together. All the side walls, vaults and dome were completely covered with frescoes. Unfortunately, very few of them have survived. The frescoes are much better preserved in the first entrance to the west. The mosaic floor consisting of intertwined circular motifs is quite destroyed today. Technical and pattern similar to those found in Iznik and Istanbul. There is a stone relief panel showing Seljuk workmanship among the mosaic panels. Another Seljuk relief found in the pavilion in Greece in the 1850s, is the process of pecking a rabbit by a bird.

A high quality painting art is exhibited in frescoes. Although the artists are not known, it is thought to belong to one of the schools in the Caucasus. In Istanbul Kora Church (Kariye Museum) shows great similarities with the frescoes. In the works carried out in portrait and composition, people and events taken from the Bible were given place and a certain picture program was applied according to the places.

The basic teaching in archeology is based on observation. Our teacher wanted us to adopt a Latin proverb in the first lesson. The Turkish money was: “Once the minister does not see, once sees a thousand times sees” Really, the old structures maybe not a thousand times, but many times we need to look at them to be fully aware of the values ​​that are hidden. Many structures that appear to have a simple identity can be perceived as having many messages to say when viewed in depth. First of all, it’s not artificial, it’s internal. It contains real values. And whoever he wants to see can find him or something close to him, in a deletion, in a badge, in a composition under a vault…

Trabzon Ayasofya Müzesi - İç Mimari Freskler



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