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Hagia Sophia

Istanbul, Istanbul Province, Turkey

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Overview  

The Hagia Sophia is located in Istanbul, Turkey. The place is unique not only due to the beauty it carries but also due to the fact that it is a place which has changed in its construction and development over the period of time but also it has switched its religion. These words are true if you are talking about Hagia Sophia. Rulers from more than one religion have ruled Turkey and every one has tried to leave its marks forever on Hagia Sophia. The building has been a Basilica for so many years. It was used as a mosque under the Muslim rule. Nowadays it acts as a Museum due to the culturally rich and historically important events which this building has witnessed. It is a very commonly visited place in Turkey.


The building itself is very famous. The fame basically comes from a huge dome. The dome of Hagia Sophia is exceptionally massive. The construction of this dome is in Byzantine style. It is considered to be one of the best Byzantine features. Byzantine Architecture was typical in many ways. This dome represents the beauty and intelligence of the architecture belonging to the Byzantine Empire. Hagia Sophia has been famous historically. When this building was serving as a cathedral, it was the biggest cathedral in this world. For many hundred years it remained the biggest cathedral in the world. In 1520 the rule of Hagia Sophia as the biggest cathedral of the world ended as in this year the construction of Seville Cathedral was completed. The word Hagia Sophia means Holy Wisdom and it suits a lot because in all the eras this building has seen; it has remained as one of the important religious places in Turkey. The faiths of the governing bodies may have changed over time, but the reason of Hagia Sophia being there is still the same. All these reasons make this building a historically important building and as a result there are many visitors from all parts of the world every year who travel to Turkey only because they want to see Hagia Sophia.


The building of Hagia Sophia was first constructed as a church. The construction must have taken place between the years 532 till 537. Justinian I was the Byzantine ruler at that time who was deeply interested in getting the biggest church of the world made. This building which currently exists was actually third church made on this site. Earlier, two churches were made at this site but those were destroyed as in those days there were lots of riots going on in that part of the world.


The church was a beauty of its own kind when it was constructed. It was designed by two very skillful designers. Anthemius and Isadore were two famous architects of their time who designed this church for the Byzantine ruler. There were many relics of Holy nature present there in this church when it was first made by these two architects. The building remained the focus of the empire for many years. For almost one thousand years it was the biggest cathedral of the world and was considered to be one of the most important buildings in the Byzantine Empire.


Things changed quickly when the Muslims took over this region. Sultan Mehmed II was the Ottoman Turk ruler who conquered Constantinople in the year 1453. When he conquered this place, he wanted this building to be used as a Mosque rather than to be used as a cathedral. The building was a beauty of its own kind and was very easily converted into a grand mosque. There were lots of Islamic features which were to be added to this building to make it look like a mosque. Minarets were added to the existing structure. Till 1935 this building was used as a mosque by the Ottoman rulers. Once Turkey became a secular state, the mosque was converted into a museum. Till this day Hagia Sophia is a museum.


Hagia Sophia is no more a mosque but it has created a lot of impact on the building and construction of mosques all over Turkey. Many mosques which were constructed in the era of the Muslims here were constructed by following the rules of construction laid out in Hagia Sophia. Many famous mosques of Turkey like Blue Mosque or Rustem Mosque are made by following the architecture of Hagia Sophia.


The first church that was made at this place is called as Great Church. There are no remains of that church here now. We only know through historical facts that there was a church built at this site but we do not have any more remains of that church. The site was ideal for the construction of that church because a Pagan Temple existed there earlier. The palace was developed very near to the place where Hagia Sophia was being built. Now this building is serving as a museum. People from all parts of the world visit this unique place which has witnessed so many revolutions.

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