ABOUT HAGIA SOPHIA
At the merger of art, history, architecture and politics lies the Hagia Sophia, the most important building dedicated to Holy Wisdom built during the Byzantine empire. From being an Orthodox Church, to a museum and now converted into a mosque, the long and rich history of Hagia Sophia has undergone several transformations.
One of its most striking features is the volumetric 102 feet wide dome which supports the entire structure without the need of columns. The architecture of Hagia Sophia built in the Byzantine style and adorned with beautiful mosaic patterns in the interior make it a unique structure signifying the rich culture of Istanbul. Enjoy the view of the majestic city from this historical landmark which has been standing the test of time for more than 1500 years.
HIGHLIGHTS OF HAGIA SOPHIA
- Visit the Hagia Sophia, a unique blend of the different cultures of Istanbul and an architectural marvel of its time.
- Having undergone multiple transformations over the years, the history of Hagia Sophia and its architecture makes it one of the top cultural attractions of Istanbul.
- Admire the gold, silver and colorful mosaics that adorn the interior walls and roof of the structure
- Stand beneath the 108 feet volumetric dome and admire the byzantine style architecture
- See the wish column situated in the northwest direction of Hagia Sophia. The wet cavity inside the column is believed to have tears of Mother Mary
HISTORY OF HAGIA SOPHIA
Built in the 6th century Constantinople, Hagia Sophia was the largest church of Orthodox Christianity as well as a Roman catholic cathedral. It went through numerous phases of transformations and is a significant part of Turkey’s long history.
- The history of Hagia Sophia dates back when it was originally constructed as a basilica for the Greek Orthodox Christian Church when Istanbul was regarded as a Constantinople. It was much smaller in size and had a wooden roof.
- After numerous destructions in 404 AD and 532, the structure was again rebuilt by famous architects Isidoros and Anthonios.
- Built in a short time of six years, in 537 CE, the Hagia Sophia Church was converted into a Roman Catholic Cathedral.
- The new structure consisted of a basilica and a centrally planned building as well as the galleries which were used by the imperial families during religious rituals.
- Eventually, during the Ottoman Empire, in 1453, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque. Several architectural elements like wooden balustrades, mihrabs and mimbar were added to the structure by the Ottoman empire during their reign.
- Furthermore, in 1935, it was turned into a museum when several elements like the floor carpets and mosaic structures which are an essential part of the history of Hagia Sophia were renovated.
- Finally, in 2020, Hagia Sophia was again declared as a mosque and currently, it stands as an important symbol of peace and coexistence between two different religions.
A unique structure combining Western and Eastern styles, the architecture of Hagia Sophia dates back to its long history of 1500 years. Built under the rule of Emperor Justinian I, by renowned architects Isidoros and Anthonios, the Hagia Sophia is built in the style of Byzantine architecture adorned with beautiful mosaics and decorations.
- Although the architecture of Hagia Sophia is mesmerizing at every corner, its best feature is the massive dome that spans 102 feet in diameter and is over 180 feet tall in height.
- The highly innovative design of the dome was built in such a way that it supported the weight of the structure of the building without the need of any columns.
- Adorned with beautiful mosaic designs and elaborately carved columns and capitals, the interior of the Hagia Sophia is a sight to behold. Although most of the original decorations including the mosaics that adorned the roof and walls perished with time, the unique marble columns still stand the test of time.
Location:Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı No:1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye
Timings: The Hagia Sophia is open throughout the year. It is only closed during praying hours.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit the Hagia Sophia is during the winter season when the weather is pleasant and ideal for sightseeing outside. The summer months in Istanbul bring along hot, humid and sticky weather which makes it difficult to explore the city with ease. Furthermore, most of the tourists visit the city during the months of May to June, thus it is better to visit during the winter months to avoid heat as well as the crowd of people.