Monday, November 22, 2010

What's in a Name?

Hagia Sophia, an Eastern Orthodox church conve...Image via Wikipedia
Somebody named Will once said that "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  That's true, but how about I call you Bob for the rest of the week? Bet Bob doesn't mind that, but the rest of you might get a little annoyed.

New York hasn't been New Amsterdam since 1667. Thailand hasn't been Siam since 1939. Istanbul is not Constantinople. Since 1453.

Not since an extremely weakened (by the the 4th Crusade) Eastern Roman Empire was taken over by the Ottomans.

You'll notice 1453 is before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 and before cartographer Amerigo Vespucci took the prize of naming my fine homeland.
This is my first opinion piece ever on this blog. I can't apologize to people who don't agree, but I believe certain historic sites belong to all of us and it's our duty to preserve them the best way we know how. Endangering the status quo of neutralized places is in no way beneficial. Neutral is good for a historic building.


The iconic model for mosques around the world, Hagia Sophia, is also the best example of Byzantine architecture. It is now a museum.  A move designed by the secular Turkish government to protect and preserve it for future generations unscathed. Work is constantly being done to uncover breathtaking mosaics in the building, which was once a church and then a mosque. Religious services, by anyone, are prohibited. Seems the best middle ground any logical person could come up with.

There are lots of amazing places in Turkey which fall into this grey area. Once one thing, then another, sometimes even repurposed again. It's part of a long and complex history. So while Turkish people are proud of the heritage and architecture left behind by the many different societies that once called Thrace home, Istanbul is distinctly their city.  It is not Constantinople.

Heck, there's even a song about it!

They Might Be Giants - Istanbul (Not Constantinople) from They Might Be Giants on Vimeo.
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Old Kitty said...

Hagia Sophia. Now if that doesn't bring out the epic romantic in you I don't know what!! What a lovely lovely lovely name, architectural wonder and just utterly beautiful building!!!

May it be preserved for eternity!! Take care

Matthew MacNish said...

This is full of win for the TMBG's video!

Unknown said...

Oh, I love the name. And the song. I immediately started singing it.

Thanks for this post.


LTM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LTM said...

Check me out! I deleted my post b/c I got so excited about the video, I skipped down before I'd finished reading.

OK, I'll go w/TMBG. That's nobody's business but the Turks. :D lol! <3


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