Archaeological and Historical Sites
Having been a student of archaeology and a lover of all things classical since childhood, I've always felt that there is no better way to understand and connect with a place than by diving into its history, physically as well as figuratively.

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A Glimpse of the Future of Integrated Religion

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Peace will come when tolerance is reached; and Istanbul, Turkey, is at the forefront of the global tolerance movement. The city blends together cultures and religions from around the world, living in harmony. A perfect symbol of this mixture is Hagia Sophia. Originally, it served as the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years. Considered to be the epitome of Byzantine architecture, Hagia Sophia was embellished with mosaics of Christian symbols such as angels, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus. When the Ottoman Empire took over, it was converted into a mosque, adorned with minarets and Arabic writings, acting as a template for other Ottoman mosques.

Currently, Hagia Sophia is a museum, welcoming visitors from all around the world, representing the integration of Islam and Christianity in Istanbul. Religious practices in this city are far different from those in the United States; Muslims freely pray in churches and Christians freely pray in mosques. This is experienced when entering Hagia Sophia, where both Islamic and Christian symbols are observed and respected. Although Hagia Sophia is visually aesthetic, it holds a much deeper beauty, representing tolerance and future peace between religions.

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by AFAR Traveler
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