Hagia Sophia

The semi-arched niches of the northern tympanum of Hagia Sophia are decorated with golden I mosaics. At the beginning of the series of windows, it is known that the pictures of the Old Testament prophets were located. At the lowest parts of the walls, the pictures of the patriarchs were located in serial in each of the seven niches. Of these pictures, only three of them were discovered.

These figures are made as seen from the front and are placed in a rounded arch of a frame. They are made on a golden background and display a portrait character. They are called the church fathers.

In these figures, which appear according to a certain sequence, only the faces carry the characteristic of portraiture, whereas the bodies are practically identical. The figures depicted from the front and seen as standing, have inscriptions in Greek nearby each figure, identifying who they are.

Inside the first niche from the left, is seen the figure of the young St. Ignatius, the Patriarch of Istanbul; in the fourth niche the figure of St. John Chrysostomos, again another Patriarch of Istanbul, and in the sixth niche that of Saint Ignatius Theophorus, the Patriarch of Antioch, are visible. Of the figure of Athanasius in the seventh niche, very little has remained. Here, all of the saints represent are seen clad in long robes, with crosses on their I collars and on their skirts, this attire being peculiar to the religious dignitaries. Their right hands are in the open, at the level of their chests. With their left hands, evident under their mantles, they are holding the Holy Book ornamented with pearls. These mosaics were formerly in the form of series of rows. On both walls at the top and extending between the two series of windows there was a long inscription, of which only a few letters are visible now.

This inscription was in an ornamental style and was to this effect: “This building which is the apple of the. eyes of the world, was revived under the protection of the Good Lord, after being subject to some deplorable misfortunes, and that time wishes to demolish this building, but with our help, this was prevented. ” As it is understood from the above-mentioned inscription, the decoration of mosaics on the Tympanon walls is the achievement of an emperor, who undertook a repair work in Hagia Sophia on a grand scale. Although it is not definitely known who this emperor was, it may, however, be guessed that these were made during the years of repairs undertaken by Basil I (876-886). In other words, these mosaics can be dated back to the Ninth Century.