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In early August, Vinny Tavares went on an exploratory trip to the countryside of Turkey. The Aria Stone Gallery founder has known for years what the Byzantine Empire knew all along: Turkey is one of the richest countries in the world as far as natural stone. From creamy travertines to light beige marbles, even some onyxes. After being invited by one of the main producers in the land, Tavares arrived in Istanbul ready to experience what this great country had to offer.

After a couple of days in the cultural and financial capital of Turkey, Vinny embarked on a 6 hour bus ride to Kuthaya, which is in the middle of the country. After Vinny boarded a bus, he crossed the Bosphorus Bridge, leaving Europe behind and heading into Asia. He had left the hustle and bustle of Istanbul, as it slowly turned into Turkey’s countryside. Then it dawned on him, just how many millions of people had done the same west-east journey in search of treasures since the old days of Constantinople. In Tavares’s case, it wasn’t gold, spices, or ceramics that instilled that sense of adventure in him, but rather Marble – an item that has crossed borders for thousands of years as mankind continues to build its architectural marvels.

Just one day prior to his cross-country adventure, Tavares recalled the chat he had with a local Istanbulnese, while visiting the imposing Haglia Sofia. Unsurprisingly, the entire place was built with stone – primarily marble. But what did catch Tavares’s attention was the fact that most of it was brought over from Greece and Lebanon, which if taken into consideration that it was built in 537 AD, one can only imagine the immense challenge it must have been to transport thousands of tons of stone for hundreds, if not thousands of miles. Over 1,500 years later, we know it was all worth it, as Haglia Sofia sits beautifully on the edge of the Bosporus connecting faiths, continents, and people.

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