A seraph of Istanbul shows its face again after 700 years of obsurity
Restoration of the Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul, Turkey, has revealed the face of a seraph angel mosaic, thought to be more than 700 years old. Last seen by Swiss architect Gaspare Fossati 160 years ago during his own restoration, the image has been obscured by plaster and metalwork since then.
The exceptional mosaic’s discovery marks the removal of scaffolding that has been standing in the former basilica for 16 years.
The dome is punctuated by four seraphim, regarded in Christianity as the highest form of angel, whose six large wings symbolise the six days it took to create the Earth.
The striking portrayal of the face - which is around one metre wide - is the first part of four angel mosaics thought to be on the dome; the remainder of which have yet to be revealed.
The revelation coincides with the year-long celebration of Istanbul as European Capital of Culture.