Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
Created in the 11th century, this Byzantine mosaic representing Christ Pantocrator is considered the most sophisticated mosaic of Hagia Sophia Church in Istanbul, Turkey. It is part of a wider set of mosaics known as Deësis mosaic, “the mosaics of the gate,” due to their location at the entrance of the Church. Christ is shown in the typical majestic pose of Byzantine Christ Pantocrator icons, holding the scriptures in his left hand and giving his blessing with his right hand. The Bible is opened on the Greek words: “May Peace Be with You. I Am the Divine Light.” The fingers of his right hand are position to form the “XC” symbol, a reference to the first and last letter of the word “Χριστός” (Christos in ancient Greek). But unlike most images of Christ Pantocrator, this ancient icon shows an impressive realism, with incredible detail revealed in the hair and beard of Christ.