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Hagia Sophia Interior Main

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Hagia Sophia Interior Main
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View looking east down the 230 ft. (80 m.) long central nave of the Hagia Sophia—from the balcony "box" where the Byzantine queens used to sit!  Note the balconies to the right (south) and left (north) of the nave.  The gallery on the right is called "royal gallery" and several Church Councils met here.  The walls of this gallery were decorated with mosaics—including the famous Deisis.

In the center of the image is the semi-circular apse of the Byzantine Church.  In the arch above the apse is a mosaic of Mary holding the baby Jesus.  In the lower portion of the apse is the mihrab (the niche pointing Muslims toward Mecca for prayer)—it was added when the church was turned into a mosque.  To the right of that is the minbar (or pulpit from which the imam addresses the assembled Muslims).

The rectangular structure below and to the right of the center of the image is the müezzin fahfilis which is a marble platform for the readers of the Koran.  This side of it, the marble circular tiles in the floor mark the sit of "coronation square."  This is said to be the place where the Byzantine Emperors were crowned and/or the "omphalos" or center of the world.

In the roundels to the right of the apse is the name Allah in Arabic script. To the left is the name Mohammed.  There are six such roundels in the "mosque" mentioning kAllah, Mohammed, and the first four caliphs.

To the left of the apse, built up on columns, is a private box called "the sultan's loge."  This where the sultan would sit during prayers—unobserved by the worshippers (for his protection?).