Around the World in 80 Treasures episode 9 – Turkey to Germany: In the penultimate stage of Dan Cruickshank’s gargantuan journey around the world, we find the intrepid explorer floating above Turkey in a hot air balloon! Below lie miles of a subterranean city where across the centuries peoples hid from warring factions from the east and west.
Once in the caves – dark and sinister as they are – Dan uncovers an ingenious means of defence before stumbling on the weirdest treasure of his trip – a cavern full of golden locks – of hair! It reminds him he needs a haircut – possibly the least wise decision of his trip. Recovered from his singeing experience over supper in downtown Istanbul, the mother of all domes at Hagia Sophia raises his spirits as he climbs to the very top.
In Russia’s St Petersburg, Dan casts himself in the guise of Peter the Great, who planned an imperial city from a simple shack before heading north toward the Arctic Circle and the remote Monastery of Solovki, where Russia’s epic and often violent history has left its mark. Even now it is one of the bleakest places he has encountered so far.
Poland is a destination with personal echoes – as he reveals, he grew up there – a visit to the local salt mine with its miraculous salt carvings – beautifully detailed figures carved by the miners as altar pieces to petition God for their safety – transports him back to his lost childhood. Shadows of 20th-century history crowd in as Dan lands in Berlin where he determines he must salvage something from the wreckage of Nazi Germany. His choice: a chair and a beetle.
Around the World in 80 Treasures episode 9 – Turkey to Germany
Hagia Sophia, officially Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i Şerifi, literally Holy Mosque of Hagia Sophia the Grand, and formerly the Church of Hagia Sophia, is a Late Antique place of worship in Istanbul, designed by the Greek geometers Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles. Built in 537 as the patriarchal cathedral of the imperial capital of Constantinople, it was the largest Christian church of the eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire) and the Eastern Orthodox Church, except during the Latin Empire from 1204 to 1261, when it became the city’s Latin Catholic cathedral. In 1453, after the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire, it was converted into a mosque. In 1935 the secular Turkish Republic established it as a museum. In 2020, it re-opened as a mosque.
Built by the eastern Roman emperor Justinian I as the Christian cathedral of Constantinople for the state church of the Roman Empire between 532 and 537, the church was then the world’s largest interior space and among the first to employ a fully pendentive dome. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have “changed the history of architecture”. The present Justinianic building was the third church of the same name to occupy the site, the prior one having been destroyed in the Nika riots.
Being the episcopal see of the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, it remained the world’s largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. Beginning with subsequent Byzantine architecture, Hagia Sophia became the paradigmatic Orthodox church form and its architectural style was emulated by Ottoman mosques a thousand years later. It has been described as “holding a unique position in the Christian world”, and architectural and cultural icon of Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox civilization.
The Solovetsky Monastery is a fortified monastery located on the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea in northern Russia. It was one of the largest Christian citadels in northern Russia before it was converted into a Soviet prison and labor camp in 1926–39, and served as a prototype for the camps of the Gulag system. The monastery has experienced several major changes and military sieges. Its most important structures date from the 16th century, when Filip Kolychev was its hegumen.