Byzantium & Friends

29. The many identities of Hagia Sophia, past and present, with Bob Ousterhout

July 30, 2020

Hagia Sophia is back in the news. To understand what is happening, we need to know the complex history of this building as a church, mosque, and museum, and the many parties that have sought to claim it. In this episode, Bob Ousterhout (University of Pennsylvania) illuminates this rich history, with a focus on the last century and a half, the current political forces, and the priority to preserve the history of the monument for all who wish to study and experience it. He is the author of the magisterial survey Eastern Medieval Architecture: The Building Traditions of Byzantium and Neighboring Lands (Oxford 2019), and an article on the topic at hand: 'From Hagia Sophia to Ayasofya: Architecture and the Persistence of Memory,' İstanbul Araştırmaları Yıllığı 2 (2013) 1-8, which is available here. [Sidenote: you may want to check out my recent podcast interviews on The Medieval Podcast and the Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Podcast.]