The Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya in Turkish) began as a basilica for the Greek Orthodox Christian Church. Emperor Theodosios II, Arkadios' successor, reconstructed the Hagia Sophia, which was finished in 415. He had it converted into a mosque to accommodate hundreds of new Muslim worshipers who had migrated to Constantinople (now Istanbul) from other parts of Europe.
The building was constructed using Byzantine architectural techniques with some Arab influences. It is widely regarded as the most beautiful church in the world when it was built and remains so today. Theodosios' goal was to create a church that would be equally important for both Christians and Muslims. So, the design of the building reflects this idea by combining Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian elements.
After the conquest of Byzantium by the Turks in 1453, the building became the mosque known as "Cistern Ayasofya" (Waterborne Mosque). In 1660, after many years of neglect, it was converted back into a church. The current dome was added during this period. Although the conversion to a mosque first and then back to a church was not intended to be permanent, over time more mosques were built in the area to replace the one originally there. In 1844, the last church was demolished and today you can see only the top of the bell tower remaining because all the rest is used for commercial purposes.
It is one of the largest church buildings in the world and was formerly the largest cathedral in the world. The building was constructed between 532 and 537 as a gift from the Byzantine emperor Justinian I to convert the country back into a Christian nation after it had been predominately Muslim for several centuries.
During its years as a mosque, the building had many uses including a school, a medical center, and a prison. In 1453, after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire, the building was abandoned until 1555 when Sultan Mahommed II converted it into a holy place for Islam. The site now serves as a museum featuring many of the items found during excavations conducted before construction started on the current version of the museum in 1844.
The first phase of the current museum opened in 1844 and included an archaeology collection, a large theological library, and an ethnography collection. In the 1960s, more extensive renovations were done that added new exhibition spaces, improved lighting, restored frescoes, and changed some of the flooring.
Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom, Ayasofya), built between 532 and 537, symbolizes a golden period in Byzantine architecture and art. It was the main church of the Byzantine Empire in Constantinople (later Istanbul), and it was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman Empire seized the city in 1453. Today, it is a museum devoted to Orthodox Christianity.
The building started as a church for the Christian community of Constantinople. In the 10th century, it became the main cathedral of the Byzantine Empire. The construction was financed by the empress Helena who wanted to make sure that no other church could compete with her creation. She also wanted to show the world how powerful she was. The design of the building shows that it is inspired by the Holy Temple in Jerusalem - the Dome of the Rock.
During its years as a mosque, the Hagia Sophia served as a model for other mosques around the world. The Ottomans used parts of the original structure for their own buildings including the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Mosque which was the main mosque of the Ottoman Empire for almost half a millennium. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Western nations bought up many of their buildings including the Hagia Sophia which has been a museum since 1935. It has been listed as a World Heritage Site since 1979.
The Byzantine Emperor Justinian I erected Hagia Sophia, or the Church of Holy Wisdom, on the site of a ruined basilica of the same name. It was one of the world's largest domed constructions when it was finished in 537, and it would serve as the primary Orthodox Christian church for the next 900 years. Under the Ottomans, the building was used as a mosque until it was converted back into a church under Turkish control during the Cold War.
Hagia Sophia is an ancient Greek word meaning "Holy Wisdom" or "the wisdom of God". The term comes from a title given to it by the emperor Justinian II (527-565). He called it that because he believed that his wife, Sophia, had divine inspiration when designing it. She was a talented architect in her own right who also designed her husband's palace and other public buildings.
Both Justinian and his wife were devout Christians who wanted to create a religious center for their empire that was equal to the great pagan temples of Asia Minor. So, they had architects study the works of the master builders of Greece and Rome and then had them copy many of the best features for themselves. The result was a building that combined the simplicity of the early Christians with the magnificence of the pagans!
In addition to being an important church, Hagia Sophia is also important for being one of the first large-scale architectural projects in history.
Built as an Orthodox Christian church 1,500 years ago, Hagia Sophia was transformed into a mosque after the Ottoman invasion in 1453. It was converted into a museum in 1934 and is currently a Unesco World Heritage property.
In addition to being one of the largest churches in its time, it also features some of the most intricate mosaic work in the world. The building itself is also interesting because it has been described as the first secular architectural masterpiece in our world.
Hagia Sophia is famous for many things including: ancient architecture, innovative engineering, religious tolerance, and more. Check out these other interesting facts about this amazing building.