Hagia Sophia at the American Airlines Terminal

New York - In the year 532 AD, the Roman Emperor of the East, Justinian I, ordered the leading architect of the day to build a monument that would outshine all other religious buildings. The end result, which took five years to complete, was the Hagia Sophia, and it didn’t disappoint the emperor. Consecrated in 537 AD, the Hagia Sophia, the capital of Orthodox Christianity, a  favorite tourist destination, standing opposite the Blue Mosque in the heart of Istanbul. Converted into a mosque by Mehmed the Conqueror in 1453 and decorated with its first minaret, the Hagia Sophia gained its final form with the minarets added by Sultans Bayezıd II and Selim II.
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The Hagia Sophia also decorates the new American Airlines terminal at the New York JFK airport. There is one significant difference, however. American Airlines commissioned murals of every major iconic building from around the world for its terminal, yet their insistence on depicting the Hagia Sophia without minarets drew criticism from Turkish passengers. Yüksel Oktay, a resident of New Jersey, wrote to the airline, noting the mistake in depicting the Hagia Sophia without minarets, despite all the other buildings being shown true to the original. Pointing out that Delta Airlines’ ad campaign preserves the minarets, Oktay also added that he wouldn’t fly American Airlines until the deliberate error was corrected.

Margaret R. Addison of American Airlines Customer Relations replied that the mural was an artist’s impression and that they wouldn’t force an artist to change his art. The Turkish Tourism Attaché in New York also contacted the airline about the painting.

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