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The Greece Runestones of Sweden

The Greece Runestones are about 30 runestones containing information related to voyages made by Norsemen to the Byzantine Empire. They were made during the Viking Age until about 1100  and were engraved in the Old Norse language with Scandinavian runes. All the stones have been found in modern-day Sweden and most of them were inscribed in memory of members of the Varangian Guard who did not make it home.

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Hagia Sophia: some facts
  • The Hagia Sophia, whose name means “holy wisdom,” is a domed monument originally built as a cathedral in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) in the sixth century CE.
  • With the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, Hagia Sophia became a mosque and was renamed Aya Sofya Camii.
  • Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1935 by the first President of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
  • Only Patheon in Rome has slightly bigger dome than the dome of Hagia Sophia in the world.
  • The Alter, the bells, sacrificial vessels and iconostasis were all removed when the church was converted into a mosque.
  • The vast interior is wholly free of suggestion of ponderous load, and its effect is that of a weightless golden shell  that seems to possess a miraculous inherent stability.
  • A variety of ornate mosaics were added over the centuries by each emperor after Justinian I. They included imperial portraits, images of the imperial family, different emperors, saints, images of Christ and Virgin     Mary with Jesus as a child.
  • The powerful Doge Enrico Dandolo, the chief magistrate of the Republic of Venice who was over 90 years old and blind, led the Latin Christians on a siege of Constantinople. The city and the church were sacked and desecrated, many golden mosaics were taken back to Italy, and Dandolo was buried at Hagia Sophia after his death in 1205 CE.

 (Images from Wikipedia)

Byzantine Gold, Amethyst and Pearl Earrings, 6th-8th Century AD

Byzantine jewellery was a full continuation of the Roman traditions which were kept alive at the new capital, Constantinople, as well as other centers of artistic tradition, such as Antioch. In the Byzantine Empire jewellery played an important role. It acted as a way to express one’s status and as a diplomatic tool. In 529 AD Emperor Justinian took up laws regulating the wearing and usage of jewellery in a new set of laws, later to be called the Justinian Code. He explicitly writes that sapphires, emeralds and pearls are reserved for the emperor’s use but every free man is entitled to wear a gold ring. Pearls were prized in the previous Hellenistic and Roman periods, but seem even more so in the Byzantine empire The mosaics of San Vitale at Ravenna, Italy, depict Justinian and his wife, the empress Theodora, sumptuously bedecked in pearl encrusted diadems, necklaces and brooches.

Islands of Light

The islands in the vast Greek archipelago are all together composed of tradition, culture and natural beauty. This island state attracts travellers who are often bewitched by one particular island and return there every year.
The large islands, like Rhodes, Corfu, Crete, Lesvos and many others are among the favourite destinations worldwide; the smaller ones acquire devoted friends who adore the peace and quiet and their authentic colours.

Little picturesque fishing villages and harbours, monuments and remains of Greek culture, Byzantine churches and living tradition make the island part of Greece a true paradise. The warm, Mediterranean climate allows you to bask in the sun and the sea from early spring until late autumn. September and October in Greece are renowned for their pleasant temperatures. The Greek seas stay warm until November and you can enjoy an extended summer which is unique the world over - what the Greeks call “Mini summer"…

Feeling the wanderlust? See more beautiful images of Greece here.