It’s a warm and sunny day and I decide to take advantage of some free time by heading down to Little Aya Sofia. I’d never heard of Little Aya Sofia until I moved into my apartment and checked my map, wondering what that building with the small pink curves I saw from my window was. Little Aya Sofia is architecturally very much like the famous and enormous Aya Sofia, which is also in my neighborhood. The “real” Aya Sofia is known as one of the most famous, beautiful, and architecturally important buildings in the world. Little Aya Sofia is supposed to be very much like it, just much, much smaller.
I set off down the steep hill, winding my way toward the pink curves. On the way I stop for lunch at the Cesme restaurant, a small and friendly neighborhood café built in, on, and around the remains of an ancient fountain. There is a good fruit and veggie stand right beside the restaurant and I decide I will stop on my way back to buy figs, peaches, and some of the beautiful dark plums.
The call to prayer sounds as I approach Little Aya Sofia and I see men heading inside so this is an active mosque—I will have to pull out my scarf and cover my head. I walk through the gate in the stone wall surrounding the mosque and sit on a bench to wait, not wanting to go in during prayers, but not knowing how long they last either. I sit where I have a good view of the minaret, wondering if I can get a glimpse of the muezzin. I am curious about the men who call. Are they imams? What else do they do with their days?
A latecomer hurries down the steps and inside. A little boy wanders by, goes inside, comes out again and sits.
It is a pretty and peaceful spot in a quiet neighborhood. Through the gate I see there are a few tourists walking in pairs through the empty streets, looking at the small shops and restaurants.
The latecomer is the first to leave, rushing quickly away, then the others straggle out. They weren’t in there long, maybe five or ten minutes.
I never did see the muezzin come down. I always wonder if there really is someone in the minaret or if they just play a recording. Or maybe he spends his entire day in the tall thin tower of the minaret? I wait a few more minutes and go toward the door, tucking my hair and arranging my scarf.