HOT CROSSES: Crusader Graffiti in Hagia Sophia

posted in: Sketchbook Adventures | 4

TWO LEAD CROSSES

They’re only visible from a few inches away. Carved  at eye level into the side of a malachite pillar in Hagia Sophia’s lower North Gallery are two thick little crosses side by side. The lead pressed into them is the same tone as the pillar itself. Leaning there in the dark one day last winter, I saw them between my fingers and thought I was hallucinating.

There are dozens, some say hundreds, of graffiti crosses scattered throughout Ayasofya. Along with the ghost images of bronze or gold crosses wrenched away are these thick little artifacts. I think they’re from the Fourth Crusade.

Two Lead Crosses
Crusaders attack Constantinople

Hagia Sophia, Constantinople, 1204: Illiterate Christian Soldiers far from home with nothing to do but raise Cain, melt lead, fix chainmail and make arrowheads. Here’s some melted lead among the graffiti up on the balustrade in the Imperial Gallery.

The more I looked, the more crosses I found. Here’s one on a massive malachite column, one of the eight major ones in the nave. Notice how this cross fades out at the top, but still has all that lead pressed into it.

Fade-out cross
Here it is in situ. Can you see it?
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

4 Responses

  1. nelsa silva

    I love Istanbul and these drawings bring to me the need to go back and see the city with Trici’s eyes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.