Icon of the Dormition of Mary, the Mother of God, in the Chora Church in Istanbul. This is the icon of the Dormition of Mary, the Mother of God, that adorns the exit of a side chapel of the Chora Church. It depicts the Orthodox theology of the Dormition of Mary.
Icon of the Resurrection in the Chora Church in Istanbul. This icon adorns the roof above the altar of the Chora Church. It depicts the metaphysical reality of the Resurrection. Christ is standing upon the broken gates of hell bringing a redeemed Adam & Eve up to Heaven. Christ is flanked by the Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament.
The Theater of Dionysus in Athens. It is built on the side of Acropolis Hill and could hold 16,000 people in the Greek classical period (5th and 4th centuries BC), Athens’ approximate population at the time. However, people came from all over Greece to see the drama and comedy festivals held at the theater.
The Agora of Ancient Athens. This was Athens’s ancient marketplace where all manner of commercial transactions happened. It was also the center of political and civil life in the city. The Temple of Hesphastion on the left side of the Agora dates to the Greek classical period (5th and 4th centuries BC).
The Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens. The great temple built and dedicated to the goddess Athena, patron god and protector of the city of Athens. The temple was later converted to a Greek Orthodox Christian church when Athens became a Christian city. Its final usage was as a weapons depot for the Ottoman Turks. It was blown up in that capacity by the Venetians in the 17th century. The building is currently under restoration.
The Rila Monastery in Bulgaria. The Rila Monastery is Bulgaria’s oldest and most holy monastery, dating to the 10th century AD when students of a hermit, St. Ivan of Rila, founded the monastery as their living place while the received their education from him. Bulgarians consider it the focus point for their culture because of its historical longevity and its actions as a cultural repository during numerous foreign occupations.
Statue of Saint Sophia, The Holy Wisdom, in Sofia, Bulgaria. The Eastern Orthodox Church has a traditional theology of the Holy Wisdom, known as Saint Sophia, that guides humanity and is God’s living will upon this Earth. Greek teaching is that it is the divine will of Christ within the universe, but not on par with the Three Persons of the Trinity. However, this statue is in the Slavic tradition which also views Saint Sophia as a feminine presence that counterbalances the male nature of the Trinity, though still not a fourth Divine Person.
The Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in Sofia, Bulgaria. The seat of power for the Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. It was built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Russia as a monument to the cultural, ethnic, and political relationship between the Russian and Bulgarian nations. Construction was started in 1878 and the church also serves as a monument of remembrance to all the soldiers who died in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 which liberated Bulgaria.
Birthplace of Count Vlad the Impaler in Sigisouara, Romania. The story of Dracula the vampire is a fiction created in the West. However, the person who it most closely parallels is Count Vlad the Impaler, who was a very bloodly ruler in Transylvania during the Middle Ages.
The Last Judgement at Voronet Monastery in Bucovina, Romania. Northern Romania is famous for its painted monasteries which have the entire outside of their monasteries covered in religious icons that depict numerous scene from the Old and New Testaments. This icon is of the Last Judgement and spans one entire side of the church inside Voronet Monastery. Eckerd students Gabe Stanberry and Sara Fish are pictured looking up at the icon.
The Cathedral of the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul. This is the third Cathedral of Hagia Sofia to be built in Constantinople, now Istanbul. It dates back to 532 AD when Justinian used extra tax revenue to build a new Hagia Sofia after the last one had been burned in a riot. The cathedral was the seat of power for the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople until Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453.
Icon of Justinian, Constantine, Mary, the Mother of God, and Christ. This icon is of the Emperors Justinian and Constantine respectively presenting the third Cathedral of Hagia Sofia and the city walls of Constantinople to the Virgin Mary and the infant Christ. The icon adorns the exit to the Cathedral of Hagia Sofia and is a representation that these two men, Justinian and Constantine, have now given Christ’s pilgrim church on Earth a center of power from which it can grow. The icon dates back to the 6th century just as the Cathedral of Hagia Sofia does.
Photos by Ethan Packey
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