This microscale LEGO rendition of Istanbul’s most famous landmark has been masterfully created by George Panteleon. The tan and dark tan elements blend seamlessly together to create the sweeping curves and rounded roofs of the 1,500-year-old building. The huge dome, which encloses a ceiling height of 182 feet, is created from the planet hemisphere element for Bespin. George has rigged the interior with lights, allowing the model to glow warmly, and added a lovely wood base. It all comes together as a wonderful display piece.
Builder John Snyder calls this creation “The Island of El Harraz,” and while I believe that this could be a part of an island, it is probably not the whole deal, considering where the camel and ostrich would go, why the denizens would have a market and what the structural integrity of medieval buildings would be on such a small sandy island. That aside, the creation is just sweet. Until a few years ago, Middle Eastern-inspired builds were rare, but lately, we’re seeing more of this established style of architecture (that is at least as deserving of attention as the classic European utilitarian military forts).
There is a nice composition to the whole scene, with buildings set up rising higher the further they are from the front. The colours used are simply perfect, and anyone who’s lived in or visited the areas that inspired John inspired would recognize them. This is all topped off by vivid minifigure action staged throughout the diorama, such as the ostrich looking on from the side with a surprising amount of character.