The Hagia Sophia is a domed structure that was initially erected as a church in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) in the sixth century A.D. It has two storeys and is centered on a massive nave with a large dome roof and smaller domes soaring above. The building was converted into a mosque after the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman sultan Murad I in 1453. Although it has been used for various purposes since then, it is most commonly referred to as a museum.
Constantinople was once the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which at its height under Emperor Justinian I (527-65) was one of the largest and most powerful states in Europe. After nearly 600 years, the city was conquered by the Turks and became the capital of their empire until 1912 when the Ottomans were forced out by European powers. Today, Istanbul is home to many museums and historic buildings.
The Hagia Sophia is a huge structure inside and out. It is estimated to be 365 feet long and 185 feet wide without the original dome. With it, the circumference would be about 468 feet. The building stands on a raised platform with six columns supporting the podium and entrance porch. Inside, the ground floor is divided into three sections: a narthex, or entryway; an atrium, or open area; and a naves, or main room.
By doming it, the builders of Hagia Sophia combined the central plan with the basilica. As a result, the Hagia Sophia is a domed basilica with a large dome, two half domes, and smaller half domes. The architects also incorporated features from other buildings they had seen, including the Byzantine Empire's capital city of Constantinople.
Hagia Sophia was built between 532 and 537 as part of the Byzantine Empire's rebuilding program after its fall to the Muslim Turks in 1453. The building served as both a church and a mosque during its lifetime. It was converted into a Catholic cathedral in 1577 by Pope Gregory XIII. Today, it functions as a museum devoted to religion and history. The building's huge size is hard to imagine today, as almost all of our museums are small compared to Hagia Sophia.
In terms of architecture, Hagia Sophia shows the influence of several different styles including Roman basilicas, early Christian churches, and late medieval mosques.
The central plan is used extensively in Islamic architecture. The use of this plan in Christianity came much later. In fact, the first known example of it in Europe can be found in Hagia Sophia. The domed basilica design was invented in China around 600 but it wasn't until much later that it appeared in the West.
The Hagia Sophia, initially a Byzantine cathedral erected in the sixth century and briefly a Catholic church in the 13th century, was transformed into a mosque in 1453. After substantial renovations, it was transformed into a museum in 1934, symbolizing Turkey's secularism.
Hagia Sophia is one of the largest mosques in Europe. It is also regarded as the prototype for many later Muslim buildings. The name "Hagia Sophia" means "Holy Wisdom" in Greek.
Built between 532 and 537 as a baptistery, it was converted to a cathedral in 634 when the area was part of Justinian's Roman Empire. In 762 it became a monastic foundation under the leadership of St. Sophia, whose relics were kept in the cathedral. In 1097 the building was consecrated as a Christian church once more. However, it soon fell into disuse and was eventually demolished by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During its existence as a mosque, it was a model for other mosques all over the world.
Museum visitors can explore several floors with exhibits on different periods of history, from the first Christians' persecution in the fourth century to the 19th-century discoveries in the attic storage rooms.
The magnitude of Hagia Sophia must be seen to be believed. It was the largest structure in the world when it was built in 537 A.D. and it still holds the record today. Even though many structures have been built since then, they don't hold a candle to the size of this incredible building.
Hagia Sophia was built as a church but later on became a mosque. It is considered one of the most important buildings in the history of architecture. The fact that it has withstood the test of time while other much newer buildings haven't is truly amazing.
You may wonder how high Hagia Sophia actually was. Well, it is estimated that it was about 420 feet tall (134 m) including its dome. That makes it taller than the currently listed World's Tallest Building which is Taipei 101 at 365 feet (111 m).
There are some parts about Hagia Sophia that even today remain mysterious. For example, why did the people who built it choose to use marble instead of wood or stone? There are also no records showing that it had ever been destroyed by fire before it was burned down by the Turks in 1660. All in all, it's hard to explain what made them build something so unique unless you know that it was designed by a master builder.