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(DIP) U.S. PRESIDENT VISITS HAGIA SOPHIA MUSEUM AND SULTANAHMET MOSQUE.

ISTANBUL, Apr 7, 2009 (TUR) -- The U.S. president visited the Hagia Sophia Museum and the Sultanahmet Mosque (also known as the Blue Mosque) in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Tuesday.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the Hagia Sophia Museum, and received information from the curator of the museum.

Obama told reporters that he found the museum amazing.

Later, Obama and Erdogan proceeded to Sultanahmet Mosque.

A former patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum in Istanbul, the Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) is famous in particular for its massive dome and considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture.

The Hagia Sophia was constructed in five years, from 532 to 537, at the orders of Emperor Justinian I and designed by Isidore of Miletus.

The Hagia Sophia was a Byzantine church built between 532 and 537 AD. The Church contained a large collection of holy relics and featured, among other things, a 50 foot (15 m) silver iconostasis. It was converted into a mosque after Sultan Mehmet II (The Conquerer) conquered Istanbul in 1453.

The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed, and many of the mosaics were eventually plastered over. The Islamic features ? such as the mihrab, the minbar, and the four minarets outside ? were added over the course of its history under the Ottomans.

It remained as a mosque until 1935, when the Republic of Turkey changed it into a museum. It was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, until the completion of the Medieval Seville Cathedral in 1520.

Sultanahmet Mosque was built between 1609 and 1616, during the rule of Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice.

The mosque is also known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior and it has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Istanbul.

(THROUGH ASIA PULSE)
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Publication:Anadolu (Eskisehir, Turkey)
Date:Apr 7, 2009
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