VoucherCloud, a money-saving app, last year released a world map that identifies each country’s most popular tourist destination based on TripAdvisor’s top-rated “things to do” feature. Surprisingly and with a bit of disappointment, the stand out for my country, the Philippines, was Kayangan Lake. But where is that? I wonder how this lake beat and knocked out world-class destinations like El Nido, Boracay and Bohol.
But when I checked Turkey, I was super happy to know that this beautiful country’s top destination was the Hagia Sophia. Though they seem to be a flop in the Philippines, VoucherCloud and TripAdvisor are so correct with the Turkey result. I have recently been to Turkey and only a stupid, puny and absurd tourist will miss the majesty, grandeur and beauty of the great Hagia Sophia.
As one of Turkey’s most celebrated landmark, the great Hagia Sophia was a Byzantine church for 916 years. It was later converted into an imperial mosque by a Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and stayed as such for 482 years. Then in 1935, it was transformed into a museum and was later considered to be a UNESCO World Heritage site. It may have a turbulent past but because of its rich and significant historical background, Hagia Sophia easily earns respect from all religions and occupations.
Though every nook and corner of this building seem to have an intense and loud story to tell and despite being the busiest and most visited attraction in Turkey, the Hagia Sophia still maintains its calm and peaceful effect towards its visitors.
I don’t have a tip on how to explore this ancient structure. The only advice I can give to all those who will be fortunate to visit this top Turkish destination is to breathe, digest and admire the bravura of the rich stories of this spectacular structure.