Hagia Sophia is, without doubt, the most famous building in Turkey. No tourist is considered to have seen Istanbul, unless they visit Hagia Sophia. Besides all its architectural and religious importance, it also guards many secrets. Some of them on it, some beneath.
While thousands of people were working to break the secrets over ground, the mysteries beneath were safe in their solitude. Until, exploration tours of “Beneath the Hagia Sophia” project were started to the wells, tunnels and the cisterns.
Until 15 years ago, there were only legends and stories about the Hagia Sophia’s below ground parts. We made our first dive in 1998 to the wells inside Hagia Sophia. Then in 2009, we explored the tunnels beneath. In our last expedition in 2012, we entered both the wells and the tunnels. We dove into the 2 wells in the gardens, which were never before explored and we had very interesting findings. Also, the previous shots were poor quality. The equipment was prepared to cover many possibilities, as what we would encounter below was not clear. With the experience of the first dive, we prepared much more specific equipment. We did not only shoot for documentary, but we also had shots with quality enough for scientific examinations. Centuries old Hagia Sophia was very generous to our team, and gave away many of her secrets. We are in the post-production phase of our documentary. We will share “Beneath the Hagia Sophia” documentary with all documentary-lovers in the 2013-2014 season.
On the last stop of Hagia Sophia’s mystery line is a novel. One of the most important authors of our time and the author of the bestsellers, “The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, The Lost Symbol, Digital Fortress, Deception Points”, Dan Brown’s last novel, Inferno.
When our friends told that our project was mentioned in Dan Brown’s novel, we did not believe them. In accordance to our responsibility for the World Heritage, we shared some of our findings before our documentary was released. We shared some shots and information of the Eastern Roman Empire’s most important and mysterious building’s parts, where no one without proper speleology education can enter. It would seem those declarations and footage from our 2009 diving have inspired Dan Brown. He has related the source as it is in his novel. His sensibility on the subject made us very happy. We hereby thank Dan Brown, for supporting our 15-year-long efforts for the documentary with such a reference.
“You won’t believe what we just discovered. Have you ever heard of a documentary film director named Göksel Gülensoy?”
Langdon shook his head.
“While I was researching Hagia Sophia,” Sinskey explained, “I discovered that a film had been made about it. A documentary made by Gülensoy a few years back.”
“Dozens of films have been made about Hagia Sophia”
“Yes,” she said, arriving at her work area, “but none like this” She spun her laptop so he could see it. “Read this.”
Langdon sat down and eyed the article- a composite of various news sources including Hürriyet Daily News – discussing Gülensoy’s newest film; In the Depths of Hagia Sophia.
As Langdon began to read, he immediately realized why Sinskey was excited. The first two words alone made Langdon glance up at her in surprise. Scuba diving?
“I know.” she said. “Just read”
Langdon turned his eyes back to the article.
SCUBA DIVING BENEATH HAGIA SOPHIA: Documentary filmmaker Göksel Gülensoy and his exploratory scuba team have located remote flooded basins lying hundreds of feet beneath Istanbul’s heavily touristed religious structure.
In the process, they discovered numerous architectural wonders, including the 800 year old submerged graves of martyred children, as well as submerged tunnels connecting Hagia Sophia to Topkapı Palace, Tekfur Palace, and the rumored subterrenean extensions of the Anemas Dungeons.
“I believe what is beneath Hagia Sophia is much more exciting than what is above the surface,” Gülensoy explained, describing how he had been inspired to make the film after seeing and old photograph of researchers examining the foundations of Hagia Sophia by boat, paddling through a large, partially submerged hall.
Dan Brown, Inferno