Hagia Sophia - Hagia Sophia information and pictures

Hagia Sophia is one of the most magnificent buildings in the world. Located in present day Istanbul, Turkey, the edifice has seen three incarnations since it was first erected in the year 360 under the orders of the emperor Constantine the Great. The building is world-renowned for its classic Byzantine architecture and today houses a museum in tribute to a rich history of Christian and Muslim artisanship.

The History of Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia, or the Church of the Holy Wisdom, was first built as an Orthodox basilica, one of the many splendid churches built by the emperor Constantine during his reign over Byzantine. Within forty years the basilica burned to the ground in the year 404 when riots occurred, leaving nothing behind.

A second church was dedicated on the site in the year 415 by Theodosius II. This building was also destroyed by fire, though several marble slabs survived and are now on display in the gardens at the current site.

A third church was ordered by Emperor Justinian I just days after the second one had been ruined, and was officially opened in the year 537. This newest manifestation of the building was the most magnificent of all, a principal work of architectural design that is still revered today. The massive dome was innovative for its time, the extensive use of marble, and the artisanship of the mosaics make the Hagia Sophia one of the most important structures ever built.

For more than 900 years, the basilica remained as the seat of the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople until 1453, when Ottoman Turks conquered the city. Fascinated by the beauty of the church, Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror immediately converted it into a mosque upon his triumph. For almost 500 years, Hagia Sophia thrived as a centrally significant mosque.

In 1934, Turkish President and founder Mustafa Ataturk converted the site to a secularized museum. The Aya Sophia Museum has been maintained as such ever since, offering the public an opportunity to witness the many architectural and artistic wonders that the building represents.

What to see at Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia is a classic exemplar of Byzantine architecture. The immense rectangular building is covered by a large central dome that serves as the building’s focal point. The dome sits atop four pendentives, or dish-like structures that hold it in place. These pendentives give the illusion of the dome simply floating above four arches. The expansive interior is adorned with rich mosaics and marble craftsmanship and at either end of the main structure lie semi domes which extend the structure even further beyond the base of the main dome.

Within the walls of the great edifice is an abundance of artistic magnificence. Two large marble lustration urns adorn the interior. Marble doors, portals and decorative slabs decorate the museum at every turn and a great number of mosaics beautify the entirety of the building. Many of these golden and marble artworks depict important religious scenes and others are simple geometric patterns.

Where is Hagia Sophia: Yerebatan Cd, 2

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