A fine example of former Byzantine glory is the best seen at the church of Haghia Sophia (AyaSofya) in the west side of the center. Commissioned by Manuel I (1238-63), this monastery church used all that 13th-century money could buy for its construction. When it was converted to a mosque in 1461, the walls were whitewashed, preserving a set of stunning frescoes covering every surface of the interior. The best are in the narthex (entrance hall), depicting scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. Look too at the south porch, where, above a weathered frieze., the Comnenus eagle spreads its wings on the arch’s keystone.

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