Greek: ‘Αγια Σοφια
What: A former Greek Orthodox patriarchal church.
Built: 532-537 AD
Located: Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), Turkey
Material: Ashlar and brick
Dimensions:82m by 73m and 55m in height
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox church, later turned mosque and now a museum in Istanbul (Constantinople), Turkey. It was originally built sometime between 532 and 537 AD by the Byzantine Greeks and served as the cathedral of Constantinople until 1453, except between 1204 and 1261 when it was the cathedral of the Latin empire. When Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire itbecame a mosque from May 29, 1453 until 1934, when it was secularized. It then opened as a museum on February 1, 1935. The Hagia Sophia is famous for its handcrafted mosaics that line the entire temple and for its massive dome that is considered a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture and is said to have”changed the history of architecture”.
The Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral in the world for a period of thousand years, until Seville Cathedral in Spain was completed in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site, the previous two having both been destroyed by rioters. It was designed by Isidore of Miletus, a physicist, andAnthemius of Tralles, a mathematician. It would be the seat of the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinopleand a principal setting for Byzantine imperial ceremonies, such as coronations for the next thousand years.
When Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453 Sultan Mehmed II ordered the building to be converted into a mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed and many of the mosaics were eventually plastered over. The Islamic features such as the mihrab, the minbar, and the four minarets outside were added over the course of its history under the Ottomans. Although it is sometimes referred to as Sancta Sophia, as though it were named after a saint named Sophia (sophia being the phonetic spelling in Latin of the Greek word for wisdom), the full name in Greek is Church of the Holy Wisdom of God, the church being dedicated to Jesus Christ, in Eastern Orthodox theology, the Holy Wisdom of God.
Ancient Megastructures – Hagia Sophia: