There are few things on this planet that are truly amazing, but the Hagia Sophia church building in Istanbul, Turkey would certainly fit in that category.
When it was built in 537, it was the world’s largest building. The enormous dome of the church was an engineering marvel. The building changed the history of architecture — and the history of music. A century’s-worth of chant and song was written just to be performed there because of the church’s remarkable acoustics.
For 1,000 years, Hagia Sophia (Greek for “Holy Wisdom”) was the home of the Greek Orthodox Church. It became a mosque in the 1400s and is now a museum and Turkey’s most-visited tourist attraction.
The communities of faith — both Christian and Islamic — who worshipped there are now gone, but technology is bringing their experience back to life. This story from NPR grabbed our attention this week: researchers from Stanford University collaborated with a choir to recreate the unique acoustic experience of what it would have sounded like to pray in this building 1,000 years ago.
Lent is a great time to step into a prayer practice. If that’s a stretch or a struggle, think about jump-starting your efforts by standing in the shoes of ancient Christians and imagining yourself in the stunning Hagia Sophia. Stream the music of the choir featured in this story, Capella Romana, and perhaps the sacred sound will lift your heart to God as it did for generations of Christians in Turkey — and for us!