İsmail Köse


Haghia Sophia was a small Church located to the North East of Turkey. Because of its dimensions when compared with Haghia Sophia in Istanbul it is called also "Small Haghia Sophia". When Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror added Trabzon in the Ottoman Borders, He converted main cathedral of city into Mosque, Whereas he did not converted Haghia Sophia into Mosque though it was the most beautiful building of Comnens. About one hundred year after the conquest, Haghia Sophia converted into a mosque after it has served as a church over 300 years and used as a mosque until the Russian occupation in 1916. The period of usage of as a mosque was longer than the church.

After the foundation of modern Turkish Republic, Haghia Sophia continued to be used as a mosque for a while, and all frescos during this time were under white wash except some cleaned by Russian Archeologist Usbensky during Russian Occupation. The most beautiful carvings of Haghia Sophia placed on the southern narthex, the frizzes showing the creation of Adam and Eva. The Bell Tower is about 200 years younger than the main complex also includes elaborate paintings in the small cell at the middle.


Anatolia boasts three Haghia Sophias which have great importance for Christianity. One of them is the most renowned Byzantine cathedral, the Haghia Sophia of Istanbul being an architectural masterpiece with its enormous height and large dome (AD. 325-360), its construction was begun during the reign of Constantine and completed by his son Constantinus, it was opened for worshipping in 360 (1) The Second important temple called Hagiha Sophia is Iznik (Nicea) Haghia Sophia, it was built by Emperor Justinianos in the 6th centuries. Even though it is not as big or as architecturally important as the Istanbul Haghia Sophia, it is also very important for Christianity because, The Frist Ecumenical Council of Christianity in 325 AD discussing Trinity had summoned in Iznik, and The Seventh Ecumenical Council in 787 AD were held in this temple under the leadership of Patriarch Tarasios. During the Seventh Ecumenical Council especially serious disputes broke out regarding iconoclast and gaps in the Christian faith deepened. Decisions were made on some basic principles of Christianity during this Council. (2)

The third Haghia Sophia is located at the far eastern side of both, at a spot that could be assumed to be the far end of Anatolia. It is Trabzon Haghia Sophia (also known as Small Haghia Sophia), which was built outside the city walls, by Comnenus King Manuel I, between 1238-1263, in a Byzantine province style, with a Georgian conical dome, Seljuk stone carving and embroidery harmonized in its construction. The stone works, carvings and construction of the temple brought together different nations' and cultures' art styles. Especially at the southern Narthex entrance of Trabzon Haghia Sophia the embroideries are unique and special to this temple. Haghia Sophia means "Sacred Wisdom" meanwhile in Christianity it is one of Jesus' names.

In the year of 1204, the Trabzon State that was built with contributions by the Georgian Queen Tamara to the Comnenus Dynasty, and in a short time they had established alliances by marriage, in order to assure their continued existence. At its very beginning they fought against the Byzantine State founded in Iznik and established alliances with and paid taxes to Anatolian Seljuks and Mongols. To break free from the Mongol's governance in the reign of Manuel I, they tried to establish kinship with France with a marriage of an Comnenus princess to the French King Louis, but France did not cared this proposal. Later again due to marriage, close relationship and cooperation have been established with the Byzantine Paleilogos dynasty. (3) All of these different and complicated political relationships made their mark on the Trabzon art and architecture. The most important one of these, in regard to Haghia Sophia's history is the Anatolian Seljuks whose influence can easily be seen on the ornamentation.

When Comnenus initially founded Trabzon State centered from Batumi to Samsun, the first king Alexious attacked the Byzantine State's newly crowned king Laskaris in Iznik. But on his campaign, near Samsun he came across the Seljuk Sultan Keykavus I's army who were in control of this region. After Sinop's fall to the Seljuks, an Agreement was signed between them and Alexious agreed to be under the governance of Seljuks and pay tribute. In 1244, after Kosedag Battle, Trabzon State allied with the Mongols and after the collapse of political union in Anatolia, they came under the governance of Mongols. Those years coincide with the date of Haghia Sophia's construction.

Trabzon Haghia Sophia is located at the right side of the state road entering the city from the west and about 2km distance from the so-called old city, inside of Middle Forest. Haghia Sophia and the Bell Tower added at a later date, were built on a rock cape, at a spot overlooking the sea side on the site of a former Roman Basilica. But due to the silting up of the sea over time, and because of the construction of the state coastal road here, the Haghia Sophia and Bell Tower are about half km away from the sea side. Talbot Rice says that at the place where Haghia Sophia was built there was a former Monastery complex. (4)

Even though Haghia Sophia is a Byzantine building, as mentioned before due to the complicated political relations of the Comnenos dynasty, its ornaments and architecture carries eclectic specialties and such eclectics must not be amusing in a capital where a target point of its era's political powers was. On the southern front there is a series of irrelevant stone ornaments whose features resemble 12th century churches in the Vladimir-Suzdal region of Russia, especially in Vladimir, as in the much more carefully ornamented stone embossing on the front of the Church of St. Dimitri, dated 1195-1200. (5) Considering the close relationship and kinship between Trabzon State and the Georgian Kingdom, and the obvious Georgian influence on those ornaments, the stone carvings and embossing on the southern front do not carry same features. Two of those stones are definitely in the Seljuk style and another one partly. At the entrance of the Western front ex-Narthex there are nine stones carved and ornamented in Seljuk style. At Haghia Sophia especially mukarnas works on the column capitals reflect Seljuk art style features, two of most commonly used elements of Seljuk art: star and rosette motifs can frequently be observed. Motifs on the lower register of southern moulding second from the left and at the right side of the northern brim have the same specialties and appearance of a more carefully carved group of motif variations of Divrigi Ulu Mosque and Hospital Darussifa built almost at the same time 1228. (6)

To Rice; though exo-narthex of Haghia Sophia and north entrance face stone mould ornaments have been influenced by Seljuk fabric and carpets, they are exactly the same as Seljuk stone work and wood carving features. The main entrance in the south is the most important and ornamented section of the building. Masonry and ornaments are predominantly Seljuk and Islamic artwork on the facade. The north entrance hosts eight stone carvings in Seljuk style besides the interior walls of the north entrance. As a result, motifs seen in Haghia Sophia are splendid examples of Seljuk ornamentations to be found in Divrigi, the very end of the west border of the Seljuks. Islamic art found in Haghia Sophia ornamentations is identical to that found in Anatolian Seljuks' 13th century buildings. In those days the fame of the Seljuk stonework extended to Kherson and that kind of ornamentation was in fashion.(7)

Haghia Sophia gives its name to the quarter in the city and it is next to the quarter called "Fatih" which means the "Conqueror". The name comes from Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror.

Haghia Sophia was built in 1250-1260 at the time of Manuel Comnenus I, (1238-1263) one of the Trabzon State kings. It was built on a terrace of a Roman pagan temple of Apollo. The three-apse ruined chapel located in the north yard must be an earlier one. The plan of Haghia Sophia is squared-cross shape, with four columns carrying the high main conical dome. Eastern openings of side naves are barrel-vaulted, the long openings on the west are covered by cross-vaults. The barrel vaulted roof in the north is longer than the southern and thus a lengthwise appearance has been given to the building resembling domed basilicas. Moreover, in three directions the three entrances (porticos) opening with three arches solely are essential architectural components and this specialty marks the difference between Haghia Sophia and traditional Byzantine architecture.(8)

As a fine example of late Byzantine building, it has a high centered dome and a narthex with three naves. The nave in the middle has five cornered semi-circle apse and the ones on both sides end in round apse. John Freely mentions that the apse in the south is diaconicon or is the room in which relics were kept. The room in the north is for prothesis namely Communion-Cudas ritual preparations. The place next to the diaconicon has not been paved and it is believed to be the burial place of Manuel Comnenus I. (9) The west end has a chapel and a narthex the same size with the western portal. South, north and west narthexes have been covered with barrel vault and opened outside with three arches carried by two arched columns. Portal columns and their capitals are all reused marble and they date back to different dates prior to the fifth century. Four impost capitals used in the building having same typology are unique and extremely well ornamented. The bunch grapes, vegetable patterns in Sasanid fame cover entire body. Similar capitals to those in Haghia Sophie have been found nearby Topkapı Palace. The capitals show the 6th century Byzantine art and they must be carved in Capital and brought to Trabzon. Porticos at the three sides have before used and gathered capitals at their entrances. There are two composite capitals to the south and two pane typed capitals to the north. (10)

Reliefs on friezes over south face were carved on different stones and the Genesis scene (Old Testament) is pictured. The key stone has an open-winged single-headed eagle-aetos looking towards east. (11) It symbolizes the Comnenus Kingdom that ruled Trabzon for 257 years. A similar eagle pattern is situated on the exterior walls of the main apse. Just below the key stone are the doves looking towards east and west, square frames with a star and crescent, centaur and griffon (apocalyptic creatures) figures from Bible, arabesques, spiral ornaments, grape leaves and bunches representing fertility in Christianity and all of them were decorated with great mastery. (12)

Surprisingly similar to the Turkish flag, the relief showing the moon and the sun shaped star should not be considered a Hellenic, Roman, Seljuk or Georgian symbol but a Mithra cult religious symbol which existed in the Black Sea culture for thousands of years. The Mithra symbol could be seen on coins of Pontus Emperor Mithrates who lived centuries before Haghia Sophia was built. Ahura Mazda and Zoroastrian cult is the origin of the symbol. The crescent represents the night and wickedness whilst the sun represents goodness. "The sun prayer" relating to this cult has continued recently on the highlands in the Black Sea area. D. Talbot Rice, in his book "Haghia Sophia" says that: the exterior walls of Haghia Sophia have ship carvings made by Mediterranean sailors who believed that God would bring them luck and protect them while fishing and sailing. The carvings are dated 1450-1850's and it is not clear by whom they were carved or for what purpose. It is thought that they were carved by different sailors probably because they believed the local people to be blessed, and because they wanted God's help whilst sailing.

The interior walls of the southern portal host faded frescoes. The eastern portal wall has a verse of The Holy Koran saying; "And that the mosques are Allah's, therefore call not upon any one with Allah" (Cin, 72/18). (13)

The space under the central dome was covered with nine different coloured marble called opus sectile. To the north, west and southern entrances of the temple there are three porticos. The frame of the dome is a dodecagon having twelve corners taking twelve apostles into consideration. Events from the Bible were depicted in the frescoes of Haghia Sophia. The frescoes are fairly good examples of Byzantine Renaissance art.

The building, according to Evliya Celebi's record, was converted into a mosque in 1577 following the conquest of Trabzon by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror and became a Foundation-Vakf Haghia Sophia attracted travellers and researchers for centuries. Evliya Celebi, (1648) famous for his travels talks about Trabzon in his wellknown book "Seyahatname-travels": "Haghia Sophia is by the sea. It was built at a time of unbelievers, later a governor and philanthropist informs the Sultan about the building and by the decree of the sultan it was converted into a mosque and used for that purpose from then on".(14)

Haghia Sophia was visited and mentioned in diaries and memories. The ruined building was restored with a donation from Rıza Efendi in 1864. The building served as a depot and hospital at the time of Russian invasion. Russian Archeologist F. I. Uspensky arranged some excavations around the building and unearths some of the frescos. Uspensky was charged to collect and classify historical monuments of Trabzon. After the occupation it was turned into mosque again. 1958-1962 are the years when the building saw a proper joint restoration by Edinburgh University and Charity Directorate of Turkey. All frescoes were cleaned, restored and Haghia Sophia opened to visits as a museum.

Bell Tower

British traveler and researcher G. Finlay dates the Bell Tower from 1426-1427. It is unique - there are no others the same in Byzantine churches. Set 25m. to the west the tower is in Venetian style. Frescoes inside the tower were restored by the Russell Trust in 1961. Papadopoulos adds that the tower served as an observatory and hosted lectures on astronomy. It was probably also used as a lighthouse. One of the Comnenus kings, Kalo Johannes, who could not bear his predecessor father Alexious IV, living a long life and caprices killed his father, and ascended the throne and had this event portrayed with himself over the eastern face of the Bell Tower.(15) This picture's only traces have survived today, nowadays it is indistinguishable.

J. P. Fallmerayer mentions about the Bell Tower as; "The bell tower having a short narrow mouth has 120 feet height, at twelve steps distance to the church, built as isolated on a cliff terrace by the sea. It is in rectangle shape, the stone steps leading to entrance built twenty steps above ground have been partly broken. The entrance directly enters into a frescoes cell and resembles a small temple. Besides interior frescoes are liturgics also there are figures of clergies passed away here. There is a semi circle outer part resembling a mosque's niche. The year inscribed in accordance with Byzantine calendar shows the date of 6941 and with modern calendar this date is 1433". (16)

The Bell Tower today hosts fairly well preserved frescoes and by the ladders situated inside it is possible to climb up to the fresco cell. The niche Fallmerayer talks about is visible from the outside. The explanations of the Bell Tower frescoes will be given later.

The Frescoes of the Haghia Sophia (17)

In Haghia Sophia the paintings visible at present owe their existence mostly to the Ottoman Empire's indulgence. Because the policy of the Ottomans while converting churches into mosques was not to obliterate the paintings but just cover them with a white paint allowing numerous frescoes to carry their original colour, quality and magnificence to the present day. All paintings in Haghia Sophia have been cleaned and exposed today. The most well preserved paintings exist to-day in the main body of the church, in the narthex to the west and in the chapel of the Bell Tower which stands not far from the west door. At Haghia Sophia the narrative cycle has been followed in a range of paintings, nowadays like Sumela Monastery's rock church's eastern masonry, some scenes in the aisle have been repeated at the narthex to the west. When ruins on arched vaults and walls were investigated carefully it was easily observed that, once upon a time the internal area of the church had wholly been covered by paintings.

Though there is no inscription showing the date of paintings, D. Talbot Rice points out that the used style shows clearly enough that they belong at the latest to the 13th and probably to the 14th centuries and the paintings already suggest the manner of the Byzantine revival.

At Haghia Sophia the paintings are of considerable interest as regards their style and iconography. The colouring is also less fine, though it is considerably developed. Behind full length figures there are black and dark green backgrounds and have inky black, thunderous skies, which appear behind the scenes. There is a general sense of depth and space and a definite attempt at modeling, which may perhaps be due to western influence. This would be easily conveyed by means of Venetian or Genoese trading, throughout the mid15th century.

The work essentially reflects features of local schools, though the paintings are nevertheless very well executed. The paintings have the attraction of being well preserved and owe this to being plastered over by the Ottomans. Inscriptions and signs show that especially in the bell tower paintings were executed by two monks and this shows that the artists were capable of executing this work well on into the 15th century. This case proves that, early wall-painters or artists living in Trabzon were doubtlessly professionals. (18)

Starting Haghia Sophia's paintings' explanation from plastic friezes placed at the southern Narthex's outer wall surface will make the work easier. Nevertheless, the ornaments on the southern Narthex are not frescoes, as it was told before but they are majestic and marvelous.

Frescoes of the Interior of Hagia Sophia Eastern Apse And Naves
Mary And Christ (Apse)

In the apses of churches, usually the scene of enthroned Mary and Christ child on her knee is depicted. In the scene if Mary holds the Christ child on her left shoulder these frescoes/icons are called Odegetria Mary meaning guide, leader. If Christ Child is depicted on Mary's stomach those frescoes/icons are called Hora tu Ahurito or Mary of Chora meaning sheltering the Eternal God in her stomach. (19) The beautiful Theotokos, traditionally referred to as the "Platytera" when depicted as the Queen of Heaven above the Altar portrays compassion rather than glory as she sits enthroned, holding the God-Child and extending her hands in supplication. In the apse of Hagia Sophia Mary sits on the throne and the Christ Child is on her knee, this is called the Platytera of The Apse. At both sides of Mary and Christ there are two angels with open wings wearing imposing garments. They are, Messenger Angel, Gabriel and Michael blessing Mary and her Son Christ. Mary and Christ figures' faces' colours have been diminished by time and lost basic features.

The Departure (Anelipsis)

The departing scene is generally depicted on the centre of the apse vault and this scene is called anelipsis. Below both sides of this scene the blessing of and charging of apostles and fish miracle scenes are depicted. In anelipsis scenes Christ is depicted within an almond shaped mandorla. In Hagia Sophia the situation is the same. At both sides of departing Christ, to the southern wall's horizontal side charged apostles, to the northern wall's horizontal side fish miracle scenes are depicted. Christ within the mandorla placed at the centre of the barrel vault. The anelipsis scene in Hagia Sophia reflects all features of ordinary anelipsis scenes in other churches. In the scene angels preparing the sky for Christ's departure, holy deaths and saints at the sides watching Christ's departure and being taken up into heaven. The day of anelipsis is the 40th day of Christian religious holiday calendar and departure of Christ occurred on this day.

British Fine Arts Professor D. Talbot Rice points out that on the western arch of the anelipsis scene three partly full-length three saints are visible, in the middle Saint Paul, to the right Saint James and to the left Saint John. Nowadays figures are not well preserved and inscriptions are invisible, Rice says that these names may not be correct.(20) On the departure scene only the scenes on higher parts have been preserved and are visible at present.

Such beliefs of Christianity; Christ's deification, crucifixion, rising after death, departure into heaven and his miracles after resurrection are definitely and clearly rejected by the basic source of Islamic faith, The Holy Koran. Therefore this and similar scenes have not any reciprocity in Islamic faith. In The Holy Koran the crucifixion of Christ is rejected as; And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa)..." (21)(Nisa, 4/157-158).

The Charging/Blessing of Apostles

This scene is also depicted on another side below the anelipsis and because all eleven apostles are in the scene it is also called blessing of apostles. In the scene there is a meeting, heavenly view, and apostles bowing before Christ in respect. Christ with his arms outstretched on both sides blessing his apostles and saying to them, numerous languages have been given to them, to go to everywhere on earth.14 (22) In the scene Christ is wearing a yellow robe and a white cloak tied at his chest, his arms are stretched to the right and left. On the ground there are four apostles bowing in respect and they are also wearing purple robes and white cloaks. To the north and west sides two angels over the trees complete the scene.

The Miraculous Draught of Fishes

The scene generally is located below the side of anelipsis. The story is not told in all by Synoptic*Gospels and only John's Gospel tells about it. After Christ's being taken up into heaven he appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. Simon Peter and another six apostles together went out to fish, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Christ stood on the shore, but the apostles did not realize that it is him. Christ asks them whether do they have fish or not - there is no fish. He says them; " to throw their net on the right side of the boat" and they will find some. When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.(23) This scene is recognized not as a miracle of Christ but symbolically his charging of apostles. In the scene in both corners there are fir trees. The figures are extremely well painted and stand out strikingly before a sky of bright blue and ground of darkish green, the dominant garment colour is white.

The Doubting of Thomas

After his rising Christ had appeared to his apostles but Thomas one of the twelve was not with the others when Christ came. When other apostles told him that they have seen Christ, Thomas had said "unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it." After eight days, Thomas and other apostles were in the house, Christ came and stood among them, asking Thomas to put his finger his nail marks and his hand into his side. Thomas after touching Christ's nail marks and side loses his doubts being sure of Christ's resurrection.(24) In the scene Christ stands in the middle in front of a door, with the twelve ranged on either side of him. Apostle Thomas, who does not dare approach, stretched out his hand to touch Christ's left side, before the entrance door. Christ's garments' colour is blue.

The Birth of Mary

The birth of the Mary is not included in the known four Canonical Gospels. Starting before her birth, Mary's life story and all events until the birth of Christ are told in Yakavo's apocryphal*Gospel manuscripts written in the 2nd century. This Gospel was very well known in the Middle Ages (25), became an inspiration source for Mary's birth scenes and was used for numerous church depictions. According to the story Anna was barren, she and her husband Yovakim could not have a child. To have a child Yovakim lives with shepherds and throughout forty days he fasts. After Anna announces that she will give birth to a child, she gave birth to a daughter and both named her Mary.

The Entry of Mary Into Temple

By her first birthday Child Mary had been sanctified by priests and teachers of the law.(26) When Mary was three years old her parents brought her to the temple, to head priest Zachariah where she would be trained until the age of 12. In Hagia Sophia the Birth of Mary and her Presentation to Temple is depicted on the barrel vault in the southern nave apse. Lower parts of figures have been damaged and also the undamaged parts are not in good order.

In Islam Birth of Mary And Her Presentation to Temple

Mary's father was Imran from Prophet Solomon's linage. Zachariah and Imran had married two sisters. Zachariah's wife's name was Esya while Imran's was Hanne. Hanne had got old desiring to have a child. She prayed to Allah and promised if He gives her a child she would present the baby to the Beytelmaktis. In accordance with tradition, children presented to Beytelmaktis would serve in the temple and would not finish serving until his adolescence. Daughters were not accepted for serving in the temple. While Hanne was pregnant her husband Imran had passed away, and she named the baby Mary and as she had promised, although it was a daughter, brought her to temple. Due to her lineage all teachers of law wanted to undertake looking after the baby. After drawing lots Zachariah, husband of Mary's aunt undertook the training and looking after of Mary.

The Nativity -Birth of The Christ- (Genesis)

The birth scene has been depicted on the north west triangular pendentive of four marble columns transiting to a central dome. The scene mostly disappeared due to a fall of plaster and the fresco is only partly visible. The scene is extremely well painted and has unchanged figures of birth scene with oxen and horses proving that Christ was born in the stable. Both oxen and horses warming him with their breath are pictured. Although it is only partly visible, Joseph's worried stance, his back towards the women has been extremely well depicted. The portion showing mid-wives washing baby Christ has disappeared. On four pendentives different scenes have been depicted and between these scenes from northwest to southwest respectively there are four Evangelists and animals symbolizing them; St. Luke-Ox, St. Matthew-Angel/human, St. John-Eagle and St. Mark-Lion are pictured.

The most detailed story of the birth is told by Luke's Gospel. While Mary was pregnant with Jesus, Caesar Augustus issues a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. Everyone goes to his own town to register. Mary's husband Joseph goes with Mary up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea. There was no room for them in the inn, they had to spend a night in the stable. That night Christ was born, wrapped in clothes and placed in a manger. (27) The names of the midwives accompanying the birth of Christ were Salome and Mea. Apocryphal manuscripts tell about midwives.

The Birth of Christ In Islam

Mary who was pregnant with Christ miraculously, goes away as far as possible when her time for giving birth arrives. In the Holy Koran the birth is told as follows: "So she took a veil (to screen herself) from them; then We sent to her Our spirit, and there appeared to her a well-made man. She said: Surely I fly for refuge from you to the Beneficent Allah, if you are one guarding (against evil) He said: I am only a messenger of your Lord: That I will give you a pure boy. He said: When shall I have a boy and no mortal has yet touched me, nor have I been unchaste? He said: Even so; your Lord says: It is easy to Me: and that We may make him a sign to men and a mercy from Us, and it is a matter which has been decreed. So she conceived him; then withdrew herself with him to a remote place. And the throes (of childbirth) compelled her to betake herself to the trunk of a palm tree. She said: Oh, would that I had died before this, and had been a thing quite forgotten!

Then (the child) called out to her from beneath her: Grieve not, surely your Lord has made a stream to flow beneath you; And shake towards you the trunk of the palmtree, it will drop on you fresh ripe dates: So eat and drink and refresh the eye. Then if you see any mortal, say: Surely I have vowed a fast to the Beneficent Allah, so I shall not speak to any man today And she came to her people with him, carrying him (with her). They said: O Marium! surely you have done a strange thing. O sister of Haroun! your father was not a bad man, nor, was your mother an unchaste woman. But she pointed to him. They said: How should we speak to one who was a child in the cradle? He said: Surely I am a servant of Allah; He has given me the Book and made me a prophet; It beseems not Allah that He should take to Himself a ! son, glory to be Him; when He has decreed a matter He only says to it "Be," and it is" (28) (Meryem, 19/17-30, 35) In Islamic sources Jesus also was born in Bethlehem but his place of birth is not a stable.

The Crucifixion (Stavrosis)

The Cross* scene has been depicted on the north east triangular pendentive of four marble columns transiting to a central dome. The scene has mostly disappeared due to a fall of southern plaster. The crucifying is only partly visible, to the north of the scene, beside Christ's feet the mourning figure is Apostle John weeping unrestrainedly. In crucifying scenes usually three Marys, Mary, Mary the wife of Clopas and Maria Magdalene are pictured who are called Emirofori -blessed oil carriers-. John is always depicted in almost all crucifixion scenes and he does not hold a book. The Mary holds up her hands in horror and pain. The feet of Christ are attached to the cross side by side, with two nails.(29) On the cross, above Christ's head the written charge against him is placed: "The King of the Jews".

The story, with different narrations is told in four Gospels, the most detailed story given by John's Gospel. After Christ was judged and sentenced to death, soldiers stripped, tortured and put a scarlet robe on him. After making fun of him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. As soldiers were leading him to be crucified they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and forced him to carry the cross. When they arrived at a place called Golgotha (meaning The Place of the Skull), they offered Christ wine to drink, mixed with gall, but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. They crucified him and fastened above his head Pilate's notice saying that he was King of the Jews. Two robbers were also crucified with Christ one on either side of him. One man gets a sponge, fills it with wine vinegar, puts it on a stick and offers it to Christ to drink and one of the soldiers named Loginos thrusts his spear into Christ's breast. (30)

Crucifixion of Christ In Islam

Jews had been bothered by Christ's divine teachings commanded to them. They argued with him and attacked him intending to kill him. Archangel Gabriel sheltered Christ and led him through a main gate of a house and from this house's roof window Christ was taken up into heaven by Allah. Another man had entered into house and was thought to be Christ by the Jews and was killed by them. As it is seen, contrary to Christian and Jewish belief, in Islam Christ was not killed but taken into heaven by Allah. In Islam Christ was not crucified, it was another person looking like Christ who was crucified.(31) As it was said before the Holy Koran explains that Christ was not crucified. "And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure.Nay! Allah took him up to Himself; and Allah is Mighty, Wise".(32) (Nisa, 4/157-158)

Christ Descend Into Nehter / Underground World (Anastasias)

In Greek language the term Anastasias means; rising, resurrection. The source of Anastasias scenes is the apocryphal manuscript Nicodemus Gospel and probably reflects the Ancient Greeks believing it derived from early Christian myths.(33) Christ, after his burial and before his resurrection, descends into hell. The aim of his descending, starting from Adam the first human, was to achieve the salvation of spirits who were waiting there because they had not been baptized.(34) At Anastasias scenes Christ breaks open deaths' country's doors and generally with his left hand he redeems Adam and with his right Eve. Because Adam and Eve were the first parents of all humanity redeeming them symbolically implies salvation of humanity.

The Anastasias scene has been depicted on the south eastern triangular pendentive of four marble columns transiting to a central dome and comparing with other three triangular scenes it is extremely well preserved. Different from general Anastasias scenes, Christ holds a tall cross in his left hand, redeeming Adam from deaths' country and staring at Adam over his left shoulder. The figures behind Adam should be Eve and her first murdered son Abel. To the east of the scene, the bearded figure in the background clothed in black garments is John the Baptist. In front of the Baptist, Torah Prophets King David and his son King Solomon wearing royal crowns -King David with green halo was depicted older- are standing. Though they are not visible, on the ground there are pieces symbolizing broken bronze gates of deaths country. In Islamic sources there is not any kind of information related to Anastasias. Anastasias is a scene deifying Christ and Islam faiths' basic source the Holy Koran strictly rejects the faiths of trinity and Christ being the son of God.

The Baptism (Vaftisis)

Baptism is one the most depicted scenes in iconography because one of the sacraments of Christianity to enter into religion is being baptized. A Baptism scene has been depicted on south western triangular pendentive of four marble columns transiting to a central dome and it is also like Anastasias well preserved. In the scene, Christ walking naked in the River Jordan is being baptized by his six months older cousin John. To the west are three angels the foremost whom holds Christ's garment in readiness. The river is in perspective behind Christ. As soon as Christ was baptized, he went up out of the water, at that moment heaven was opened, the Spirit of God descends like a dove and lights on Christ. A voice from heaven says; "This is my Son, whom I love; with I am well pleased".(35) After baptism the mission of John was over and he was killed by the governor of Jerusalem Hirodes Antipa. In Islamic sources there is no information related to baptism.

The Lord of Cosmos (Pantocrator)

Pantocrator means the ruler of all or celestial emperor. Pantocrator scenes are depicted at the most majestic parts of temples, generally on the central dome. Surrounding pantocrator figure in medallions angels or saints are depicted and sometimes Christ handles a manuscript. Christ's right hand is depicted in the shape of showing ayia triada -Holy Trinity- Pantocrator scenes symbolize Christ's divine power. (36)

In Hagia Sophia, the pantocrator scene has been depicted on the highest place of the building, at the centre of the conical dome, as if he is glancing into the building from heaven. Though it is clear that the scene is pantocrator, only head and shoulders of the figure are visible. Except its claret color, the scene has lost all its features and probably due to humidity most parts of it have fallen down.

The Twelve Apostles (Disciples)

The word apostle derives from Greek word "apostolos" meaning "messengers". Apostles are companions of Christ he has chosen and after Christ's death their works are vital for spreading of Christianity. Each of twelve apostles symbolically represents one of the twelve tribes of Israel and they announce the new born Israel. (37)

Twelve apostles in Hagia Sophia have been depicted between windows in spaces in the dodecagonal shaped conical dome. Though all of them are not visible, they are extremely well preserved. Their names are as follows:

Friezes on the southern narthex wall

Information about ornaments on the southern Narthex wall have been given before. Almost under the keystone, there is a Comnenus State symbol single headed eagle looking to the east. Under this eagle holy in Christianity and representing the Holy Spirit, there are two pigeons with tails entwined. It is said they also symbolize peace and friendship in the lands. At both sides of the cubic cross shaped window there are crescent and stars based on the Mythra cult and under them there is a sundial. Though one of them to the west has fallen down over time, at both sides there are apocalyptic creature figures and under both there is an inscription register. Below the inscription register, creation scenes from the Old Testament's Genesis Chapter are carved symmetrically. The scene is carved from right to left by viewing angle. In the Monastery of Sumela the same scenes are painted but this time depiction starts from left to right. Nowadays both include a very detailed narration. The Genesis scene in Sumela has the advantage of being done by painting depicted in a more detailed and understandable manner. In Sumela also creation of the earth in the first register to the east surface is depicted very well. From right to left, although the first scene has partly lost its features, it animates the creation of Adam and Eve.

According to Genesis in the Old Testament God formed the man (Adam) from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Later he had planted a garden in the east, in Eden and there he put the man he had formed. In the first scene of the frieze man's creation and plants in the garden God made are animated. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters by the names Pishon, Gihon, Tigris and Euphrates. Man had been commanded that he was free to eat from any tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when he ate of it he would surely die.

One day, God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the God made a woman (Eve) from the rib he had taken out of the man. The serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals God had made. One day the serpent came to the woman and deceiving her told her that if she ate fruit of the prohibited tree she would be like God knowing good and evil. The women ate the fruit and also gave some to her husband and he also ate it. In the third scene from right to left, the serpent deceiving the woman can easily be seen. Until this time man and woman were naked and had felt no shame. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. In the last scene on the first part of the frieze, fig leaves show the shame of Adam and Eve and their struggle to make coverings for themselves. Adam named his wife Eve because she would become the mother of all the living. As a punishment for not to listening to God's command, they were both expelled from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which man had been taken. Adam and Eve first had a son named Cain and later another son named Abel. Cain was working the soil and Abel was keeping flocks. When they offered their offerings to God, Cain was stingy and brought some of the fruits of the soil whereas Abel had brought an offering from some of the firstborn of his flock. Cain's offerings were not accepted by God whilst Abel's were favoured. Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast and one day he killed his brother in the field. On the frieze in the last scene, the standing figure is Cain killing his brother and the figure lying on the ground is Abel killed by him. (38)

If we compare Creation with Islamic Sources we come across with partly similar story. Whereas, differing at some points, the creation of Adam and Eve in Islam is partly similar to the story in the Old Testament. After the creation of the universe, Allah commands angels to bring mud from the earth and creates Adam, breaths him from His soul and impersonates him. In The Holy Koran's Ali Imran Surah it is clearly pointed out that Adam was created from the earth.(39) Because Adam was created by dust from the earth he is named Adam. Adam was created and put into heaven on Friday. Contrary to other angels Satan Iblis refuses to prostrate himself before Adam and argues that he is superior because he was created from fire while Adam had been created from clay. While Adam was walking around alone in heaven he was put into a deep sleep by Allah and Eve was created from his left rib bone to be a follow to him. When Adam awoke he is surprised to see Eve and asks her who she is.

Because she was created from a living being she was named Eve. Adam and Eve, as spouses live together in heaven for a while. They were allowed to eat any fruit of each tree except one of them and both had been warned about satan. One day, satan whispers evil to Adam saying; "But the Shaitan made an evil suggestion to him; he said: O Adam! Shall I guide you to the tree of immortality and a kingdom which decays not?"(40) (Taha, 20/120) First Eve eats the forbidden fruit and tells her husband Adam that nothing bad had happened to her so Adam to also eats the fruit. After eating the fruit, their nakedness appears to them, they began to sew leaves together from Heaven to cover themselves. Both are expelled from Heaven on to the earth on a Friday. It is told that Adam was sent to a place named Serendip in the Nevz Mountains in India while Eve was sent to Jeddah in Arabia. (41)

In Islamic sources Adam and Eves' sons' birth and names differ from the Old Testament. The first born son's name is not Cain but Kabil. Also according to Islam sources their children were born each time as twins one male and one female. In the Old Testament there is no such information about female's birth and Cain was born alone. Each time Eve gives birth to a twin one male and one female, the first time twins, Kabil and his sister Lubud were born. The second time twins Abel and his sister Iklima were born. In accordance with Divine command first born daughter and subsequently born son can marry each other and vice versa. Twins were not allowed to marry each other. Kabil's sister Lubud was more beautiful than Abel's sister Iklima, and disobeying Divine order Kabil desired to marry his twin sister Lubud.(42) The dispute goes on between the two and their father Adam tells them to offer sacrifice to Allah and the one whose sacrifice is accepted by Allah would have the right. Farmer Kabil offers his mostly unqualified products, while Abel offers his best sheep in the Nevz Mountains. Whereas Abel's offer was accepted by Allah, Kabil's was refused. Kabil was angry because of this and when Abel was sleeping while his flocks were feeding, Kabil arrives there and strikes Abel's head with a stone and kills his brother. Thus the first murder on the earth was committed by Kabil.


Trabzon Haghia Sophia is one of the three special buildings of Turkey bearing the title of "Haghia Sophia". Comnens had built it to show their power and loyalty to Christianity, Ottoman also respected this at the very beginning of conquest.

According to Trabzon Tourism and Culture Directorate's statistic, in the year of 2012 including the month of August, 87.9674 domestic and 10.900 foreign visitors came to see Haghia Sophia. The total number of visitors in 2012, until the beginning of September is 98.876.

Since 1962 Haghia Sophia is an open air museum, and still there are very beautiful samples of late Byzantine renaissance stylized frescoes. Unfortunately there are some newly erected buildings around the building but the Municipality of Trabzon put in force a plan cleaning all them out. When it was built Haghia Sophia was siding Black Sea whereas today it is about 500m far from the sea due to high way construction on filled areas.

As an 800 years old building, with its remaining frescoes, plastic frizzes and Latin stylized bell tower Haghia Sophia witness the history of Trabzon. Its garden as an open air museum includes tombstones from Romans to Ottomans, stone carved donation boxes, church, pagan temple and mosque columns, capitals and ornaments belonging several civilizations passed from the area.

This paper focused on the history of Haghia Sophia trying to say some words about its paintings especially the plastic frizzes on the southern narthex. Those frizzes carved on 22 block stones. Despite the fact that they are carved about 800 years ago and the area faced several wars during this era, they are in fairly good order.

There is not a fixed date when the building converted into mosque but we sure that it was not converted in time of conquest. There are still going on arguments on the date given by Evliya Çelebi but 1577 overcomes with historical events of the era and must be correct or at least it is a more reasonable date than other suggestions.

**Bu makale, Ştefan Cel Mare University of Suceava, Scientific Annals, History Section, Codrul Cosminului, New Series, Cilt 18, No: 2, 2012, s. 169-180 arasında yayımlanmıştır.

Dr., Karadeniz Technical University-Turkey.

(1) Yücel Akal, İstanbul, Keskin Color Kartpostalcılık San. ve Paz. A.Ş., 2007 İstanbul. p.30.
(2) Jane Taylor, İmparatorlukların Başkenti İstanbul [Capital of Empires Istanbul], Arkeoloji ve Sanat Yayınları, Kanaat Basımevi, 2000, İstanbul, p. 360.
(3) Talbot Tamara Rice, Trabzon Ayasofya'sındaki Selçuklu Üslubunda Süslemeler [Seljuk Style Ornaments in Trabzon Hagia Sophia], Çev. Solmaz Turunç, Bir Tutkudur Trabzon, Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 1. Baskı 1997, İstanbul, p. 72.
(4) Ibid, p. 71-73.
(5) Rice, Opcit, p. 73.
Mukarnas: A Turkish ornamentation resembling Central Asian Turkish tents, used in the portals of Caravansaries, Madrasahs and Mosques.
(6) Rice, Opcit, p. 77.
(7) Ibid, p. 86.
(8) Sadi Dilaver, Tarihsel Yapılarıyla Trabzon, Bir Tutkudur Trabzon [With its Historical Buildngs Trabzon], Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 1997 İstanbul, 1. Baskı. p. 87-88.
(9) John Freely, Türkiye Uygarlıklar Rehberi 2, Marmara Etrafında Karadeniz Kıyısı [Turkey Civilizations Guide 2, Around Marmora and Black Sea Coast], Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 4. Baskı, 2008 İstanbul, p. 126-128.
(10) Bilban Yalçın Asnu, "Trabzon'da Erken Bizans Dönemi Mimari Plastik Eserler Üzerine Değerlendirmeler"[Evaluations of Trabzon Early Byzantine Architectural Plastic Carvings], Karadeniz Tarihi Sempozyumu (25-26 Mayıs 2008) Bildirileri, KTÜ Yayını, I. Cilt, 2007 Trabzon. p. 41-42.
(11) Jakop Philip Fallmerayer, Doğu'dan Fragmanlar [Fragments from the East], İmge Kitabevi, Çeviren; Hüseyin Salihoğlu, 2002, p. 97.
Double Headed Eagle Motif: Byzantine Empire's state symbol was double headed eagle representing Eastern and Western Rome. Nowadays the double headed eagle motif has been used in Anatolia long before Byzantines. For instance; the oldest known Empire of Anatolia Hittites' capital in Bogazkoy the entrance gate hosts double headed eagle motif. Seljuks also used double headed eagle motif as their State symbol.
(12) Fallmerayer, opcit, p. 95.
(13) The Holy Koran, Cin Surah, 72/18.
Opus Sectile: Stone or marble inlay or tiling using pieces of cut to follow the outline of the design.
(14) Zekeriya Kurşun, Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesinde Trabzon, Bir Tutkudur Trabzon [Trabzon in Evliya Celebi's Travel Book], Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 1997 İstanbul, p. 216-217.
(15) Freely, opcit, p. 127.
(16) Fallmerayer, opcit, p. 96.
(17) For Frescoes of Haghia Sophia see, İsmail Köse, 4.000 Years' Heritage and Its Divine Traces, 2nd ed. Akademi Kitabevi, Trabzon, 2011. p. 69-146.
(18) Millet, Gabriel and Rice, D. Talbot, Byzantine Painting at Trebizond, Puplished by Acedemie Des Inscriptions at Belles-Lettres and University of London, 1st Published in 1936. p. 95.
(19) Yılmaz, Nilay, Ayasofya Müzesi'ndeki İkonalar Kataloğu -I-, Kültür Bakanlığı Yayınları/1544, 1. Baskı, 1993-Ankara. s./p. 18,20,21,42.
(20) Millet, Gabriel and Rice, D. Talbot, Opcit. University of London, 1936. p. 96.
(21) The Holy Koran, Nisa-4/157-158.
(22) Millet, Gabriel and Rice, D. Talbot, Opcit, University of London, 1936. p. 96-97.
Synoptic Gospels: Due to their similarity to each other, Mathew, Marcus and Lucas Gospels are called Synoptic. The Gospel of John differs from those three with its expressions and tackled subjects.
(23) The Holy Bible, John, p. 252-253.
(24) The Holy Bible, John, p. 0:25-30.
Apocryphal: It derives from "secretly preserved" term in Latin. While it was used only for manuscripts only readable to authorized people, in 3rd century its meaning changes and it was started to be used for Gospels not recognized by the Church. Numerous subjects which Four Gospels do not tackle are told in those apocryphal Gospels and they number about twenty.
(25) Weissenbacher, Edda Renker, Adım Adım Karye [Karye Step by Step], 1999. p. 43.
(26) Weissenbacher, Opcit, 1999. p. 44-51.
(27) The Holy Bible, Luke, p. 2:5-8.
(28) The Holy Koran, Meryem, 19/17-30, 35.
Cross: It is kind of torture Romans learned from Sasanians. The crucifying punishment has been used mostly for slaves, murderers and for foreigners who were not citizens of Rome. At the time Christ lived, outside of the cities there were always crosses set out ready for punishments.
(29) Millet, Gabriel and Rice, D. Talbot, Opcit, University of London, 1936. s./p. 166-167.
(30) The Holy Bible, John p. 19:19-30.
(31) Köksal, Opcit, II. Cilt, Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı, 2007 Ankara, s./p.332-333.
(32) The Holy Koran, Nisa, 4/157-158.
(33) Korat, Opcit, 6. Ed. 2005 İstanbul. p. 131.
(34) Cömert, Hasan, Mitoloji ve İkonografi [Mythology and Iconography], De Ki Sanat Tarihi Yayınları, 2006 Ankara, p. 221.
Jordan (River): Jews in 1200's B.C. crossed over the Jordan (river) from a shallow part to possess the lands granted them in Canaan soils by God. Due to this event Jordan has been known as the symbol of God's path. Baptism and crossing over it from one bank to another symbolize entering into God's kingdom. The river springs from Hermon Haramius slopes at 550m. altitude and runs down into Dead Sea/Lake 392m. below sea level.
(35) The Holy Bible, Mathew, p. 3:13-17.
(36) Yılmaz, Nilay, Opcit, p.72,73.
(37) Besseire, Gerard, Opcit, p. 119, 165.
(38) Old Testament, The Bible Society in Turkey, 2006 İstanbul, Genesis, Chapter 1:26. p. 3-6.
(39) The Holy Koran, Ali Imran- 3/59.
(40) The Holy Koran, Taha, 20/120.
(41) Köksal, M. Asım, Peygamberler Tarihi [History of Prophets], Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı, 10. Baskı, 1. Cilt, 2007 Ankara, p. 29-44.
(42) Ibid, p. 50-51.