I CONFESS I HAD NO IDEA that the VIKINGS came to Istanbul/Konstantinople and left something (otherwise looting the town ruthlessly). But my dear old friend Hamit, the omniscient guide you can meet in the shadow of a plane tree in the garden of the Topkape Palace, showed me this curiosity as well – grafittis of the Norsemen in the then biggest christian church on earth, the Hagia Sophia!!! Unbelievable, there were Vikings who could read and write and they left messages in their RUNES SCRIPT. This Germanic alphabet which looks like parallel positioned sprigs. They used their swords or axes to hew into marble or other stones, and in the moment the curators of Ayasofia (thats the Turkish name) discovered four graffitis, one very clear because the surface is white marble (on the Southern or Empresses Gallery), another, hardly legible, on dark stone not far away, and the remaining two have almost completely vanished. Expert tried to decipher them and the result sounds interesting: In the large one the found the letters FTAN TR SAL I A A R (have a look at the picture) and the first four are part of the writers name: HALFTAN. The runes in the the dark graffiti are translated into ARE K – a popular first name until today, the K should be KIARTHI, Germanic for „did“. The year of the grafittis: around 1000. Wow: More than a thousand years old and the attitude of the travelers have not changed: ARE K its still used in variations around the World like „Bill was here“ or „Philip did this“. It produces strange sentiments to touch the Viking grafittis, to feel the notches of the runes,and to think that they visited a church who has not changed since then if you delete the Islamic calligraphy on the columns.