Perhaps no single structure mirrors Istanbul’s transformation quite like the majestic Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya to the locals). Built as an Orthodox Cathedral under the Byzantine Empire in the sixth century AD, its massive dome supervised the comings and goings of Constantinople until Sultan Mehmet II (or Mehmet The Conqueror, if you’re into badass nicknames) declared the Hagia Sophia an Islamic Mosque after claiming Istanbul for the Ottomans in 1453.
In 1931, eight years after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the first Turkish President Mustafa Atatürk stripped the Hagia Sophia of any official religious affiliation and converted it into a museum soon thereafter. Today, its renovated remains stand sturdily in the shadow of the Blue Mosque, the depictions of Jesus Christ on the inside brilliantly juxtaposed with the spiky minarets which fire skyward on the outside.
Today on ELATV, we stand at the foot of the Hagia Sophia and give you two Euroleague players who have renovated their basketball careers en route to the 2012 Final Four: Regal Barcelona’s Boniface N’Dong and Olympiacos’ Acie Law.