Remnants of Theodosius' Hagia Sophia

Remnants of Theodosius' Hagia Sophia


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Great Palace of Constantinople

The Great Palace of Constantinople (Greek: Μέγα Παλάτιον , Méga Palátion Latin: Palatium Magnum, Turkish: Büyük Saray), also known as the Sacred Palace (Greek: Ἱερὸν Παλάτιον , Hieròn Palátion Latin: Sacrum Palatium), was the large Imperial Byzantine palace complex located in the south-eastern end of the peninsula now known as Old Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), in modern Turkey. It served as the main royal residence of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine emperors until 1081 and was the centre of imperial administration for over 690 years. Only a few remnants and fragments of its foundations have survived into the present day.


Interior Photos of Hagia Sophia

I took this photo from the Empress Lodge on the second floor of Hagia Sophia. Justinian’s famous wife, Theodora, was watching religious ceremonies from here.

Since Hagia Sophia was built in a very short time like 5 years, it is said that some building elements were reused. Giant columns allegedly brought from the Temple of Artemis in the Ancient City of Ephesus can be seen on the right.

This photo is useful for viewing the interior of Hagia Sophia from a bird’s eye view. You notice more details as you look carefully at the picture. Since Hagia Sophia has a history of 1500 years, it has reached the present day with traces from all centuries.

Columns of the Temple of Artemis

We will never know if some things about medieval history are true. However, it is a pleasure to listen even the legends about a magnificent building like Hagia Sophia. If the columns used in the construction of Hagia Sophia belong to Ephesus Ancient City, even the rumor is exciting.

Columns of Artemis Temple

Empress Lodge on the Upper Gallery

I just shared the photo I took from the Empress Lodge. This time, I am sharing the image of the lodge from the ground floor. The lodge, where noble women from the Byzantine palace watched the coronation and religious ceremonies.

The Dome of the Hagia Sophia

This image should be the most beautiful photograph that includes the dome of Hagia Sophia. This is the only picture that does not belong to me in the photo collection I shared in this article.

The reason I had to share this photo is the restoration scaffolding, which has been standing in Hagia Sophia for 15 years. This pile of iron had been removed for only one year in 2010. Since I didn’t have a wide-angle lens at that time, I couldn’t take a picture like this.

For this reason, I am grateful to the person who took this photo. However, since I could not find the rightful owner, I cannot specify his name here.

Omphalion, where the Emperors were Crowned

Before the Hagia Sophia was built, the most important church of Constantinople was the Church of the Holy Apostles. However, Hagia Sophia created such excitement with its huge dimensions that it became the most important place of worship in time.

Religious ceremonies in which the Byzantine emperors were crowned were then being held in Hagia Sophia. Emperors were crowned here from 537 until the collapse in 1453.

The round marbles you will see on the ground in the photo were where the coronation was held. Each round marble has its own original color. Leading representatives of the state and the church stood in each spot. Emperors were crowned by the Patriarch of Constantinople, the leader of Eastern Christianity.

Interior Photos of Hagia Sophia

Theotokos Mosaic of the Hagia Sophia

One of the most interesting objects in the center of Hagia Sophia is the mosaic with the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus in her arms. The most important feature of this mosaic is that it is the oldest Byzantine mosaic in Hagia Sophia.

There is a period in the history of the Byzantine Empire called Iconoclasm, in which mosaics were destroyed. Since the old mosaics were destroyed during this period that lasted from 726 to 842 AD, the oldest mosaic in Istanbul is this mosaic made after the Byzantine Iconoclastic Controversy.

Marble Jars from Pergamon

One of the ancient works that contributed to the interior decoration of Hagia Sophia is Twin Marble Jars brought from the Ancient City of Pergamon. Ottoman sultans also made various attempts to decorate Hagia Sophia. Suleiman the Magnificent‘s grandson Murad III brought these marble jars from the Aegean coast.

Photos of the Upper Gallery of Hagia Sophia

The most beautiful mosaics in Hagia Sophia are on the second floor. Among them, the mosaic called Deesis is the most famous. This mosaic is seen as a renaissance of Byzantine art.

While visiting the upper floor, you can see how much Hagia Sophia was affected by earthquakes over time. Some of the columns on the upper floor are bent so visibly. Of course, not only earthquakes but also the enormous pressure created by the central dome has an effect on this.

Marble Door on the Second Floor

The Marble Door was placed to identify an area where only emperors and clergymen could pass. We know that two of the First seven ecumenical councils were held in Constantinople. One of these ecumenical councils was held in Hagia Irene and the other in Hagia Sophia. In other words, some of the most important decisions in the history of Christianity were made in the section behind this door.

Hagia Sophia Interior Photos

Deesis Mosaic of Christ Pantocrator

Deesis Mosaic is a 13th century Byzantine art work. In the mosaic depicting the Judgment day, Jesus, Mary and John the Baptist can be seen. The “Christ Pantocrator” figure in the mosaic is very impressive. It is a good experience to take a close look at the mosaic where the colors look original like the first day.

John II Komnenos and Eirene Mosaic

This mosaic shows John II, one of the emperors of the Komnenos Dynasty. John and Eirene, a very religious couple, developed good relations with the Byzantine church. Thanks to their donations, they were immortalized with a mosaic in Hagia Sophia.

Constantine IX Monomachos and Zoe Mosaic

When there was no male heir in the dynasties, the new emperor was determined through marriage. As a descendant of Basil II, one of the most important emperors of Byzantine history, Zoe was a famous empress. She had to marry 3 times for the continuation of the Byzantine dynasty. I told her story in detail in my other article called Uncovering the Mosaics of Hagia Sophia.

Runic inscriptions in Hagia Sophia

Palace soldiers guarding Byzantine emperors consisted of Scandinavian-origin soldiers. These soldiers, who also joins the battles, achieved important successes in Byzantine history. I made a reference to one of them in the article called Battle of Manzikert.

In the galleries on the upper floor, important meetings were held with the emperors and the clergy. A soldier from the guard regiment that accompanied these meetings is thought to have engraved his name on marbles.

These drawings, commonly known as “Viking Script”, are one of the things that Scandinavian people who come to Hagia Sophia are especially looking for.

Hagia Sophia Interior Photos

Mosaic of Justinian and Constantine

In this mosaic, you can see the two most important emperors of late Roman and early Byzantine history. This mosaic, located at the gate where the Hagia Sophia visit ends, symbolizes the two important emperors of the past.

Constantine, the founder of the city of Constantinople, symbolically presents the city to Jesus and Mary. Justinian, who built the Hagia Sophia, symbolically presents the church to the holy family.

This is the best preserved mosaic in the interior of Hagia Sophia. As can be seen in the photo, the mosaic is as perfect as a new one. The fact that it was able to resist earthquakes and time is proof of how advanced Byzantine mosaic art was. It should be noted that the mosaic is a thousand years old.

Constantine and Justinian

Beautiful Bronze Doors in Hagia Sophia

In the article, we talked about many things that were not originally part of the interior design of Hagia Sophia. Marble Jars brought from Pergamon, columns brought from Ephesus and finally these Bronze Doors brought from Tarsus. The history of these bronze doors brought by the Byzantine emperor Theophilos dates back to ancient times.

Monumental Fountain in the Courtyard

You will see a ceremonial fountain while leaving the Hagia Sophia. This historical work was added to Hagia Sophia during the Ottoman period. Hagia Sophia was the most important church of the city in the Byzantine period and the most important mosque in the Ottoman period. Both civilizations paid utmost importance to this historical structure.

In this article, I mostly shared photos of Hagia Sophia that describes the Byzantine period. However, there are also many works of art added during the Ottoman Empire and create a beautiful harmony.

© Copyrights: All photos, except one, belong to Serhat Engul, who wrote the article. You can use the photos in your own blog by linking to this article. If requested, I can provide full resolution versions for academic studies.

Hagia Sophia Interior Photos by Serhat Engul

About Serhat Engül

Hello explorer of Istanbul! This is Serhat Engul. I am a licensed TOUR GUIDE IN ISTANBUL. I offer PRIVATE HALF DAY TOUR which includes a visit to the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Basilica Cistern and the Spice Bazaar. This is a fantastic option to see some of the ICONIC LANDMARKS in the whole of Istanbul and you’ll receive plenty of background information on each location to enlighten you. You may see the details of this tour on the HOMEPAGE of the blog. I wish you a wonderful trip!


The Monumental Hagia Sophia – Meeting Point of Civilizations

The Hagia Sophia — or Ayasofya in Turkish — undeniably occupies the most prominent spot on the vast skyline of Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, the bridging metropolis between Asia and Europe.

Initially, it was a Christian site of worship, erected during the 4th century AD, and what we see today on the site is not the first and original Hagia Sophia structure, but its second, more-than-just-magnificent, replacement.

Beyond the fact that Hagia Sophia is highly praised for its aesthetics, its part throughout history has also been significant as it relates to religion, politics, and international affairs. In its centuries-long existence, Orthodox Christians and Muslims have both revered the site as their own.

The construction of the first Hagia Sophia church came under the orders of the Roman Emperor Constantius II, a year before his death in 361 AD, and in times when the city of Istanbul wore the name of Constantinople. But that early structure which entailed a wooden roof did not last very long.

Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) indoors captured with fish-eye lens.

A fire engulfed the church in 404 AD as chaos spread in the wider area of the city. Some ten years after the fire, and now under Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II, Hagia Sophia was rebuilt anew. A beautiful entrance with five naves contained in the interior enhanced the appearance of the second structure.

Over the next century, Hagia Sophia came to resemble an important site for the Greek Orthodox church. But in another series of severe public discontent, this time against the famed Emperor Justinian I (he held power from 527 until 565), the building went up in the flames once more.

Miniature 38 from the Constantine Manasses Chronicle, 14 century: Construction of Hagia Sophia during the reign of emperor Justinian.

The fire caused irrevocable damage to the church, after which Justinian ordered its remnants to be leveled to the ground in 532. Esteemed architects of the era were hired to work on a new cathedral, and within a period of just six years, another Hagia Sophia structure gloriously rose again — the one that is still standing proud to this day.

As an astonishing architectural feat, the new edifice of Hagia Sophia boasts a larger, domed roof, reaching up to 180 feet at its highest point. The dome was supported by arches embellished with lavish mosaics depicting winged angels (hexapterygons). Measuring 270 feet in length and 240 feet in width, the new church also contained a half-domed altar and two porches.

Hagia Sophia. Photo by Nserrano CC BY-SA 4.0

The building was constructed using an amalgamation of different materials, shipped to Constantinople from various corners of the vast and seemingly endless Byzantine Empire.

Some of the marble and brick can be traced to modern-day Egypt and Syria. The church’s interior was additionally adorned with marble from the Temple of Artemis, whose remains can be seen today in the ancient city of Ephesus, also in Turkey.

View upward to domes. Photo by Tranxen CC BY-SA 3.0

Elaborate mosaics of silver and gold shone from the walls of the basilica. Glass, gemstones, and clay were as well used for the mosaics, all of them revealing biblical scenes.

As appealing as it was, Hagia Sophia became the mother church of Greek Orthodox worshipers, the main and official Byzantine religion. Subsequently, the location was used for coronation ceremonies of the empire’s rulers.

The Empress Zoe mosaic. Photo by Myrabella

However, the basilica was not spared from further calamities. There were periods during the 8th and 9th centuries when an active ban in the empire did not allow the usage of religious pictures. In those instances, a great deal of the original paintings and mosaics secured at the Hagia Sophia were lost — some stolen, others significantly damaged.

During the 13th century, the church was briefly seized by the Romans, who inflicted serious damage to the structure before the Byzantines regained control of the site.

Everything changed two centuries later, as a new powerhouse emerged in the region — the Ottomans. Under their courageous sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, this “great military leader, he captured Constantinople and conquered the territories in Anatolia and the Balkans that comprised the Ottoman Empire’s heartland for the next four centuries,” writes Britannica.com

Apse mosaic of the Virgin and Child

Since the Ottomans were religiously oriented towards Islam, the age-old church was quickly converted into a mosque. Mehmet the Conqueror did not necessarily order the destruction of the Hagia Sophia artworks.

The Byzantine mosaics were rather plastered over with golden Islamic calligraphy for example, and were later restored by the Fossati brothers, a pair of Swiss-Italian architects who lived and worked during the 19th century.

West side of the upper gallery Photo by JoJan CC BY-SA 3.0

Gold calligraphy also covered the Hagia Sophia’s main dome, where previously a distinct mosaic likely depicted the image of Jesus Christ. With each new Ottoman emperor something else, emblematic of Islam was added to the Hagia Sophia, included its four minarets. Besides their religious function, the minarets suited the building well, enhancing its strength and stamina in case of earthquakes.

Related Video: A trip through Paris in the late 19th century including great old footage of Notre Dame

A century has passed since the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist, and the Hagia Sophia today operates as a museum. Each year, millions of people visit the former church-turned-mosque site.

Aerial view of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey

As recently as March 2019, the Turkish government revealed intentions to convert the Hagia Sophia back to being a mosque. The idea to turn back time and re-initiate Hagia Sophia as a mosque has been taking root in the country over the past few decades.

Nevertheless, Hagia Sophia is a protected heritage landmark site under UNESCO, thus any amendment of its status will need the approval of this organization.


Church of Hagia Sophia essay

Over a long period of time the Hagia Sophia, which is a renovation of a former basilica, was believed to be the largest church in the whole world. Hagia Sophia was 1st named “Megale Ekklesia” which could be roughly translated to “The Great Church” since it is believed to be the largest church in Constantinople and even in the whole world. Socrates implied that Hagia Sophia was given the name Sophia during the time in power of the emperor, Constantius. This particular name of the church represents the 2nd divine quality of the Holy Trinity.

Initially, Sophia (Holy Wisdom) was a name which had been given to Christ by early theologians (Istanbul Mosques, 2007). For a long period of time the church was placed in the heart of two religions the Christians and the Muslims. The Christians call the church as Hagia Sophia which means Church of the Holy Wisdom, and they consider it to be the church of the Orthodox faith, and of the Byzantine Empire, however the Muslims calls it Ayasofya Camii or Mosque of Holy Wisdom and jewel of Istanbul (Constantinople) and up to this point in time it still remains as one of the most main museum in Turkey.

The church had been renovated by Emperor Justinian in 532 AD and it became his greatest undertakings. In 1453 the church had been changed into a mosque and it was that time that the minarets were added in the place (Epiphany Byzantine Catholic Church, 2005). The church could be located at the peak of the 1st hill in Istanbul at the apex of the celebrated peninsula. It is enclosed within the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, and it was erected by Emperor Justinian I around 532 AD.

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The church is also situated in near the Great Palace of the emperors (Hippodrome) and the Church of Hagia Irene, and as was mentioned earlier, it was a renovation of a former basilica which was built by Theodosius II in 415. The said basilica was burned to the grounds in the Nika disturbances against Justinian I and Empress Theodora and after the revolt was taken care of the immediate reconstruction of the church was seen to by Justinian himself. It was Justinian who hired the physicist, Isidoros of Miletus and the mathematician Anthemios of Thales to construct a bigger and more enduring church than the one it was to replace.

This particular decision has got something to do with the emperor’s desire to unite the church and restate his authority. Nothing much was left with the previous churches it was to replace aside from the baptistery and the skeuphylakion which in turn is a circular edifice which is the lodging of the patriarchal riches and is positioned at the east of the baptistery. This edifice was made into an Ottoman crypt in the year of 1639 (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 2002).

The grand dome of the church is an imposing and remarkable achievement during its time and people often think that the church represents the perpetuity of the universe indicated by the Holy Spirit. The Hagia Sophia was built and dedicated for the Holy Spirit. The earthquake which occurred in 557 ruined the grand dome. Five years past before the grand dome once again regained its former glory. The new dome which was built was taller than the first and it was supported with 40 ribs. The earthquakes in 859 and 989 caused some damage into the dome and it was in some measure, reconstructed after that calamity.

In the year of 1204, the year of the Latin foray which followed the 4th Crusade, the Hagia Sophia was looted and was re-established under the reign of Andronicos II. The great southeast arc of the church was damaged and was rebuilt prior to the earthquake of 1344. For thousands of years the church in question was looked upon as the Cathedral of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, except of course during the Latin invasion, and the building was seen as the core of Christian religion in the East from the year of 360 until the Ottoman renovation.

The Hagia Sophia’s significant role as the core of religious power in the Byzantine capital was made more complex by its position as the principal site for state rites and spectacles. The occupation of the Ottomans in the year of 1453 ended the reign of the Byzantine Empire and it signalled the start of the period of Islamic veneration in the holy edifice. It was Mehmed II who was responsible for the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque. After his victory he immediately ordered the conversion of the church into a mosque (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 2002).

It is during that time that the building was labelled Ayasofya Mosque. The church stayed as the great Mosque of the Ottoman capital. This state of affairs lasted until its secularization under the Turkish Republic which occurred in the year of 1934, however nothing much had been changed throughout the first alteration when a mihrab, a minber and a minaret made of wood were included in the construction of the edifice. Mehmed II also saw fit to construct a madrasa close to the mosque and he arranged a waqf for its costs.

Massive renovations were made by Mimar Sinan and this occurred in the reign of Selim II. It was also during this time that the 1st sultan accommodations were incorporated into the building. Mimar Sinan is also the one who constructed the Tomb of Selim II to the southeast part of the building in the year of 1577 and it was followed by the construction of the resting places of Murad III and Mehmed III in the year of 1600 (Ket, 2007). Mahmud I commanded that the mosque be renovated in the year of 1739.

It was then that an ablution fountain, Koranic school, soup kitchen and library had been added in the structure which in turn, transformed the mosque into some sort of a communal center. It is also probable that the most distinguished renovation of the church or mosque in question occurred and was accomplished in 1847 up to 1849 under the reign of Abdulmecid II, who issued an invitation to two Swiss architects namely Gaspare and Guiseppe Fossati to refurbish the said edifice.

Aside from joining the great dome and the tombs and making the pillar straight the Swiss architects also saw fit to modify the adornments of the exterior and interior side of the Hagia Sophia. The detection of the figural mosaics after the secularization of the church was directed by the accounts of the Swiss architects who found them a century before for cleansing and accountings, a previous account of the church mosaics are discovered in the travel drawings made by a Swedish engineer which went under the name of Cornelius Loos from 1710 up to 1711 (Mainstone, 1997).

The epoch of systematic learning, reinstallation and cleansing of the church which had been started by the Byzantine Institute of the United States and the Dumbarton Oaks Field Committee in the year of 1940 remains even up to this point in time and the archaeological investigation led by various archaeologists such as K. J. Conant, W.

Emerson and others have clarified various facets which is linked in the history, construction, and ornamentation of the Hagia Sophia. A. M. Schneider and F. Dirimtekin have made excavations on the remnants of the former churches which could be located outside Hagia Sophia (Wegner, 2007). A discussion assembled at the University of Princeton in 1989 paved way en route for a computer based structural formation of the Hagia Sophia and this was directed by Professor A.

Cakmak, this particular exertion also presented the foundation for a new renovation project which was in progress since the year of 1995 that centers on structural observation to weigh long term solidity of the edifice together with the historical refurbishment. The church was entered in the yearly list of 100 most imperiled memorials which was published by the World Monuments Fund in the year of 1996 and 1998, to safeguard funds which would be used on the restorations.

The church is also viewed to have important effect on the start of conventional Ottoman structural design and thus, the church is open to all as some kind of a public museum (Scala Publishers, 2007). The Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya Camii is a domed cathedral, tilting on the northwest-southeast axis and once one go through the northwest by means of an outer and inner narthex, one could see that the cathedral is made up of a rectangular nave edged by an passageway and an arcade on the sides and an apsidal asylum which is projecting southeast.

Every narthex in the basilica is made up of nine cross-vaulted recesses and the said narthexes were initially heralded by a huge foyer which is surrounded by an arcade, some pieces of which still remains in the year of 1870. The inner narthex is higher than and almost two times as wide as, the outer narthex, it also has a 2nd level which is connected to the nave colonnades, and it is lit by a line of clerestory windows which could be found in the northwest of the structure.

There are also passageways which are fastened to both of the inner narthex which provide an entryway to the corridor. The routes to the southeast was also used as a official entryway for the emperors, this entrance is decorated with a pair of sophisticated bronze doors with 9th century monograms, its inner door has a 10th century montage in its lunette which portrays Emperor Constantine and Emperor Justinian presenting models of Constantinople and of the church to the crowned Virgin Mary and Christ Pantocrator.

Whereas the outer narthex is mainly lacking in any kind of adornment, the partitions of the inner narthex are lined with polychrome marble panes and edged with a deep unbroken frescoes and its tombs are decorated with montages with geometric patterns and crosses which are positioned in a golden backdrop (Nelson, 2004).

There are a total of nine doors leading from the inner narthex into the nave, and the high entrance at the middle is called the Imperial Door and is crowned by a montage which shows the image of an emperor facing down before Christ Pantocrator and is bordered by depictions of the Virgin Mary and the Archangel, Gabriel. The nave is approximately two times as long as it is wide without the adjoining colonnades and it amounts to 73. 5 meters long and 69.

5 meters wide together with the colonnades, it has four alcoves at the corners and these are engraved into the gangway and colonnades. There is also a grand dome, hoisted 56 meters from the ground, crowning the nave, its forty panes which are positioned amid sustaining beams at the bottom, makes the notion of floating, and in its tip, initially decorated with a montage of Christ Pantocrator, is a calligraphic medallion which quotes the Light Verse (24:35), and this particular decoration was engraved by Mustafa Izzet Efendi at the time of the Fossati brothers refurbishment.

The load of the dome is bore on pendentives and four massive piers, which in turn, are joined by arcades which disconnect the passageway and colonnades. The passageway is considerably taller as compared to the colonnades, where the intercolumnal girth was intentionally kept slighter to keep up the proportion. In the northwest and southeast, there are single arches which are supported by huge semi-domes which gather the lateral weights and dispense it to the three slighter semi-domes which crown the nave recesses and the asylum apse (Nelson, 2004).

The extent of apparent distance presented by the central dome and the semi-domes was unparalleled at the time of the church’s creation. In the northeast and southeast heavy double arches and pier ramparts were constructed to deal with the lunges of the dome, the difference of the kind and power of structural foundation offered by these two buttressing organizations has eventually set off the oblique distortion of the dome pedestal, whose width ranges from 32.

2 meters on the longitudinal alignments up to 32. 7 meters along the sloping alignments. Additional reasons like the speed of the first creation and disproportionate renovations of vaulting all throughout the centuries have increased the upshots of the distortion which is also apparent on the piers as well as on the grand arches (Nelson, 2004).

Flying buttresses were added in the northwest frontage in the 9th or 10th century and this was complemented by the building of flying buttresses to the south and southeast by Andronicu II in the 13th century, altered by the Ottomans, these particular additions have changed the external form of the Hagia Sophia as well as the class of light within the nave and colonnades. The nave is covered with marble sheets, which were exposed prior to the removal of the prayer rugs which transpired in the year of 1934.

Its porphyry and verde antico pillars, which were collected from the pagan sanctuaries in Western Anatolia, are crowned with sophisticatedly engraved capitals that hold the monogram of Emperor Justinian I, the ornamental cornices which separates the passageway, the colonnade, and clerestory levels support the structure and offer imaginative foundation Mainstone, 1997). No figural montages which came from the original ornamentation of Hagia Sophia remained until the reign of Justinus II after the construction of the structure was through.

With regard to the montages which were set after the Iconoclastic period, most of them did not survive the natural calamities such as earthquakes and water damage. Some of the mosaics in question were also lost to the tourists which were drawn into the area. The oldest of the montage which was found in the Hagia Sophia was discovered in the apse semi-dome and it illustrates the image of the Virgin and her Child. Two angels were also portrayed on the semi-dome arch and the one on the right corner (which is much undamaged than the other one) is the portrait of the Archangel, Gabriel.

At the top (left and right) there are montages of local saints which were lined up underneath the clerestory windows and murals which depicts Seraphim embellish the pendentives, a great number of the montages remained concealed in the dome, whose roofing was newly refurnished in order to thwart water destruction throughout their preservation. There are a number of the renowned montages, as well as the Deisis panel and grand portraits, which were located in the southwest colonnade, which was used as a site for religious gatherings and rituals (Mainstone, 1997).

Many additions made on the church by the Ottomans are observable in the nave, and majority of these were altered at the time of the Fossati brothers refurbishments. Two of the previous Ottoman works are the two 16th century tile panels which are positioned to the right of the mihrab and which portray the Holy Ka’aba, the other one exhibits the burial place of the Prophet, a band of blue tiles with Koranin writings, dated 1607, enfold the asylum apsis underneath the window level, and the marble minbar is also believed to have originated in this era.

There are four marble stages adjoining the piers, these as well as the muezzin’s stage were constructed by Murad III in the late 16th century (Mainstone, 1997). Murad IV (1612-1640) made an addition of a marble preacher’s pulpit (kursu), positioned alongside the eastern alcove. In the years of 1847 up to 1849, the Fossati brothers (Swiss architects) worked hard to reconstruct the nihrab as well as the sultan’s lodgings in the current fashion and refurnished the sultan’s kiosk to the north of Hagia Sophi, which in turn, offered entryway into the lodging from the outside.

There are also eight gigantic disks which bears the names of God, the Prophet, the four Caliphs as well as the two sons of Ali, which were ordered to calligrapher Kazasker Izzet Efendi and substituted the older panels which hangs on the piers, these works have been retained in position prior to the secularization, while the other calligraphica panels were brought to the Sultanahmet Mosque and the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art. The formed iron chandeliers as well as the stained glass windows in the asylum also came during the times of the Fossati brothers’ renovation (Nelson, 2004).

The church in question has four minarest at their corners which were added at different times from one another, the brick minaret for one, which is located in the southern corner is ascribed to Mehmed II, another stone minaret was put to the north by Mimar Sinan at the time of his refurbishments. The last two minarets are exactly similar with each other and it could be traced back into the time of Murad III (Nelson, 2004). Currently, the Hagia Sophia is one of the most interesting tourist spots in Istanbul.

Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya Camii is indeed one of the most exceptional structures ever made in the history of architecture and art from the Golden age of Byzantium and it played significant role in the Byzantine and Ottoman Empire and up to now, Christians and Muslims alike could still trace some of their religious history in the said edifice.


History of Hagia Sophia Church, Mosque and Museum

Hagia Sophia, considered as the first and last unique application in terms of architecture, magnificence, size and functionality It is a product of eastern-western synthesis, which has been inspired by the idea of ​​the Ottoman mosques.

This work is among the most important monuments of the world’s architectural history that have survived to the present day. For this reason, Hagia Sophia, along with its historical past, architecture, mosaics and Turkish buildings, has attracted all humanity for centuries.

Hagia Sophia has been a mosque for 916 years and a mosque for 481 years and has been serving as a museum since 1935.

Byzantine historians (Theophanes, Nikephoros, Gramerci Leon) asserted that the first Hagia Sophia was made during the time of Emperor Constantinos I. (324-337).

This structure, with a wooden roof, with a basilica plan, was burnt after an uprising. No residue from this structure came from day-to-day. Emperor II. Theodosius built Hagia Sophia for the second time and opened a worship service in 415.

This basilica-planned structure was also burnt during the Nica revolution in 532. Excavations made in 1936 revealed some remnants of this. These are steps, columns, titles, various architectural pieces that show entrance in the mosque.

Emperor Iustinianus (527-565) wanted to build a bigger church than the first two Hagia Sophia, the famous architects of the time Isidoros of Miletus and Hagia Sophia of Tralles Anthemios. Columns, hoods, marbles and colored stones from the ancient city of Anatolia were brought to Istanbul for use in Hagia Sophia.

The construction of Hagia Sophia was started on 23 December 532 and completed on 27 December 537. When viewed from the architectural point of view, a large central space, two side spaces (nef), absis, internal and external narthex have come to fruition. Interior, 100 x 70 m. It is 55 m long, with four large legs on it. at the height of 30.31 m. It is covered with a dome.

Mosaics as well as the architecture of Hagia Sophia are of great importance. The oldest mosaics are mosaics with golden gilded geometric and floral motifs in the interior narthex and side naves. Figurative mosaics IX.-XII. It was built in centuries. They are seen on the Emperor’s Gate, on the absiste, on the exit gate and in the upper floor gallery.

Hagia Sophia saw various repairs during the Turkish era which started with the conquest of Istanbul. The periphery of the altar contains the most beautiful examples of Turkish tile art and Turkish writing art. The famous Turkish Calligraphy Kazasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi in the dome from them was taken from the Qur’an with a 7.50 m. round plates are the most interesting ones. These plates contain the names of Allah, Muhammad, Omar, Osman, Ali, Hasan, Abu Bakr, and Husayn. On the side walls of the mihrab there are plates which the Ottoman sultans wrote and presented here.

Hagia Sophia Museum, according to the winter schedule, the museum between 09.00-17.00 hours According to summer tariff, it can be visited between 09.00-19.00 hours.

Haghia Sophia Square, Sultanahmet Tel: (0212) 522 17 50 Fax: (0212) 512 54 74


Hagia Sophia is a work that was constructed three times in the same location. Today’s Hagia Sophia is known as the “Third Hagia Sophia”. The first construction of Hagia Sophia started during the reign of Constantine I, who accepted Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire. This building, which was constructed as a basilica with a wooden roof on the first of the seven hills of Istanbul and was called "The Great Church" at the time, was opened during the reign of Constantine II in 360. There is no remnant from this structure, which was largely devastated as a result of a fire that broke out in the revolt that started in 404.

The second Hagia Sophia was built by Emperor Theodosius II on the first one and opened to worship in 415. This building, which was also constructed as a basilica and with a wooden roof, was devastated by the rebels in the Nika Revolt against Emperor Justinian in 532.

Just after the riots, Emperor Justinian decided to build a larger and more glorious Hagia Sophia than the first two. The third Hagia Sophia was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in 532-537.

Hagia Sophia, which was used as the Imperial Church of Eastern Rome, was frequently devastated due to riots, wars, and natural disasters throughout history. Hagia Sophia experienced one of the biggest destructions during the 4th Crusade in 1204 when the city was invaded. The Crusaders looted Hagia Sophia along with the whole city. During the Latin occupation that lasted from 1204 to 1261 in Istanbul, Hagia Sophia was converted into a cathedral attached to the Roman Catholic Church.

Repairs were made to try and preserve the Hagia Sophia, which was seriously damaged after the Eastern Roman administration was re-established in Istanbul. However, the repairs were insufficient and in 1346 the eastern archivolt of the Hagia Sophia and a part of the dome collapsed.

In fact, Hagia Sophia experienced the darkest period of its history from the Latin invasion to the conquest of Istanbul. Hagia Sophia, which was destroyed twice and built for the third time, ruined by wars and revolts for centuries, and the parts of which collapsed due to neglect and architectural errors, remained under the permanent threat of collapse until the conquest of Istanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmed Khan. In addition, the sociological and symbolic meaning of the temple was greatly damaged due to the schism between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

The Ottomans took great care of the Hagia Sophia Mosque, which they acknowledged and appreciated as the symbol of the conquest, maintained and repaired it continuously, and turned the mosque into a much more robust structure starting from the rule of Fatih Sultan Mehmed Khan. In particular, the additions and arrangements made by Sinan the Architect to Hagia Sophia played a major role in the survival of this heritage of humanity.

Thus, it is stated in the historical records that Fatih Sultan Mehmed Khan, who went to Hagia Sophia right after the conquest, was saddened by the status of the mosque and recited the following verses:

“Perdedâri mîkoned ber kasr-i Kayser ankebut Bûm novbet mîzened der tarem-i Efrâsiyâb”

(“A spider spins its web in the palace of the Kaiser, An owl hoots in the towers of Afrasiab")

Fatih Sultan Mehmed Khan, who endowed the Hagia Sophia Mosque as his own charity and secured the maintenance-repair costs by providing the income from several properties, started the educational activities by building a madrasah adjacent to the mosque. The first minaret of Hagia Sophia was built of wood during the rule of Fatih Sultan Mehmed Khan. This minaret, which existed for many years, was removed during the major repair in 1574. The second minaret of the Hagia Sophia Mosque was built of bricks during the rule of Sultan Bayezid II.

One of the Ottoman sultans who showed the greatest interest in Hagia Sophia was Sultan Selim II. After the building showed signs of fatigue, Selim II Khan appointed Sinan the Architect for the maintenance and repair of Hagia Sophia. The Hagia Sophia, whose domes and walls collapsed many times during the Eastern Roman period, never collapsed again after the renovations of Sinan the Architect despite many great earthquakes in Istanbul. The tradition of building tombs for the sultans in the graveyard of Hagia Sophia Complex started with the first tomb built by Sinan the Architect for Sultan Selim II.

From the time of Fatih Sultan Mehmet Khan, every sultan strived to beautify the Hagia Sophia even more, and the Hagia Sophia was transformed into an entire complex with structures such as mihrab, minbar, rostrum, minarets, sultan's office, shadirvans (fountain providing water for ritual ablutions), madrasah, library, and soup kitchen. In addition, great importance was attached to the interior decorations of the Hagia Sophia Mosque during the Ottoman period. Hagia Sophia was adorned with the most elegant examples of Turkish arts such as calligraphy and tile art and the temple gained new aesthetic values. Thus, Hagia Sophia was not only converted into a mosque but also this common heritage of humanity was preserved and improved.

Hagia Sophia, which was converted into a mosque with the conquest and served as a mosque for 481 years, was closed off to the public after the restoration works started in the 1930s. Then it was turned into a museum with a Cabinet Decree dated November 24, 1934. The Council of State reversed the Cabinet Decree in question on July 10, 2020. The Hagia Sophia Mosque was reopened to worship with the Presidential Decree No. 2729 signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and promulgated immediately after.

Presidential Decree

As the Cabinet Decree dated 24/11/1934 and numbered 2/1589 on the conversion of the Hagia Sophia Mosque in Fatih District of Istanbul Province into a museum was annulled by the Decision of the Tenth Chamber of the Council of State dated 2/7/2020 and numbered E:2016/16015, K:2020/2595, it was decided that the administration of the Hagia Sophia Mosque was transferred to the Presidency of Religious Affairs in accordance with Article 35 of the Law on the Establishment and Duties of the Presidency of Religious Affairs No. 633 dated 22/6/1965.


Blog Post on the Hippodrome, David Bergstein

Our field trip began at the Augustaion Square, directly outside the Hagia Sophia. In Byzantium the Augusteon served a similar function as it does today: a public forum, a meeting space and a center of commercial activity. After the Nika Riot the square was re-built by Justinian (along with the Hagia Sophia), and until the iconoclast period it was full of statues. During the Byzantine era the Augustaion square was surrounded by the Palace of the Patriarchate, the main Gate of the Great Palace, the Senate, Palace of Magnaura (the diplomatic palace), the bath of Zeuxipphos, the Hippodrome and the Basilica Cistern. The centrality of the square makes it easy to imagine that the Augustaion must have been full of activity. (more&hellip)


Aya Sophia (Hagia Sophia)

Address: Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı No:1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul

Perhaps the most iconic image of Constantinople is the magnificent Hagia Sophia – the church of the Holy Wisdom. It is more than 1,400 years old, and the very fact that it still stands today is a testament to the power and sophistication of the 6th century Byzantine Empire. Designed by a physicist and a mathematician, it has been the largest church in the world for nearly a thousand years.

Standing in the dimly lit interior of Hagia Sophia, it is impossible not to be amazed by the sheer scale of the building. It feels larger than life. The lofty central dome seems to be frozen in mid-air almost 56 meters above, which is about the height of a 15-storey building.

That dome is supported by two great semi-domes, which in turn rest on smaller semidomed porticos. Such unexpected cascade of domes creates an impression of a surrealistic structure that shouldn’t be able to exist. Gawking at this amazing structure is probably as close as you can come to experiencing Constantinople today. Just imagine how people would’ve felt underneath this dome 1,500 years ago.

The immense nave of the church is flanked by the monolithic green and purple columns that support the upper gallery, where most of the surviving mosaics are found. Unfortunately, the gallery was closed during my visit. Though I still managed to see a couple of mosaics that miraculously survived to this day despite being painted over when the church was converted into a mosque, during the Ottoman rule.

Update: in July 2020, Hagia Sophia was converted from a museum to an active mosque by a Presidential decree. It is still open to the public outside of the prayer times but there is little doubt that the interior of the structure will change to make it more appropriate for a mosque.

Hagia Eirene

Address: Cankurtaran, Topkapı Sarayı No:1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul

Almost immediately behind Hagia Sophia, there is another Byzantine church that now lies on the grounds of the Topkapi Palace. Haghia Eirene, the church of the Divine Peace, was according to tradition, one of the first Christian churches in the old town of Byzantium.

It has, of course, been re-built a number of times, with the current building dating back to 537, the same year when Haghia Sophia was re-dedicated by Justinian. Interestingly, Haghia Eirene was never converted to a mosque by the Ottomans.

Church of SS Sergius and Bacchus

Address: Küçük Ayasofya Camii Sokagi No:20, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul

Another Byzantine relic, the Church of SS Sergius and Bacchus is tucked away on the other side of the Hippodrome, near the shore of the Marmara Sea, where Imperial Port and Bucoleon palace used to be.

Known as Little Haghia Sophia, this church has an unusually irregular shape that gives the impression that the architects could not decide what style to follow. Perhaps it was an early experiment with a domed structure, prior to the construction of Hagia Sophia.

Chora Church

Address: Dervişali, Kariye Cami Sk. No:18, 34087 Fatih/İstanbul

One of the most interesting Byzantine churches in the city, however, is the Church of St. Savior in Chora. It is located further from the city centre and takes a little more effort to reach, but it is definitely worth the trouble. (A very handy Trafi app provides detailed information on public transport options in Istanbul, and the portable Alldaywifi is a very useful device for using your phone’s GPS on the road).

The Chora church is interesting not so much for the building itself, which happened to be hidden behind the scaffolding when I visited, but for the stunning mosaics that it preserves within its walls.

It was built in an effort to restore the glory of Constantinople after the city was sacked by the Latin soldiers of the Fourth Crusade in 1204. And it appears that no effort or expense had been spared in the creation of this masterpiece. The mosaics in Chora are jaw-droppingly beautiful. And they are old. They immediately draw you in.

And this beauty is all the more remarkable for the surprise you feel from finding it in such an out-of-the-way location, so far away from the splendor of Sultanahmet.


Information about Hagia Sophia, History of Hagia Sophia

Architecture, magnificence, size and functionality of the direction of the first and the last unique application Hagia Sophia Ottoman mosques on the basis of the inspiration for though, is a product of East-West synthesis. This work is among the most important monuments of world architecture has survived to the present day. Therefore, the Hagia Sophia, as well as the history, architecture, mosaics, and has attracted the interest of all mankind for centuries the Turkish era structures.

916 years Hagia Sophia church, mosque for 481 years, since 1935, continues its historic function as a museum.

Byzantine historians (Theophanes, Nikephoros, Grammarian Leon) the first Hagia Sophia Emperor Constantine (324-337) argued that the time to do. Basilica designed, wooden roofed building was burned down during a riot. No remains of this building have survived.

Emperor II. Theodosius Hagia Sophia was built in 415 and the second time it was opened for worship. The basilica was again burned down during the revolution in the structure of the planned 532 Nike. In the excavations carried out in 1936 it has revealed some ruins about it. They were steps indicating the entrance to the temple, columns, headings, various architectural parts.

Emperor Justinian (527-565) wanted to built a larger church than first two Hagia Sophia, Tralles and Isidoros of Miletos architects of the era of the famous Hagia Sophia was built in the extant Anthemios. column of Anatolia’s ancient cities, capitals, marble and colorful stone were brought to Istanbul to be used in Hagia Sophia.

The works began on 23 December 532, was completed on December 27, 537. Considering the architecture of a large central space, two side aisles (nave) absis, it occurred from internal and external narthex. Interior 100 x 70 m. The extent, and covered with four 55 m. in height, 30.31 m. in diameter covered with a dome.

As well as the architecture of the Hagia Sophia mosaics are also of great importance. The oldest mosaics in the interior narthex and side aisles are the gilded mosaic with geometric and floral motifs. Figured mosaics IX.-XII. It has been in centuries. They are on Emperor door, apses, exit doors and upstairs gallery shows.

Turkish period started with the conquest of Istanbul Hagia Sophia has seen several repairs. Surrounding the mihrab, the Turkish tile art and includes the finest examples of Turkish calligraphy. These Kazasker famous Turkish calligrapher Mustafa Izzet in the dome taken from the Lord of the Koran of 7.50 m. round plates in diameter are attracting the most attention. These plates, Allah, Muhammad, Umar, Uthman, Ali, Hasan, Abu Bakr, Hussein’s names are written. In the side walls there are signs that gift here, type the Ottoman sultans.

Sultan II. Selim I, Sultan III. Mehmet, Sultan III. tomb of Murat and princes, Sultan Mahmud fountain, primary school, soup kitchen, library, Sultan reigns of the sovereign court, muvakkithane of tombs the Turkish period examples of Hagia Sophia, interior design, pottery and architecture with classical finest Ottoman mausoleum tradition constitute examples.

Museum can be visited every day between 09:30 to 16:30 hours.

Is open to visitors every day except Monday 9:20 to 16:30 hours.

museum entrance in the courtyard, after centuries of being used again, the original door to the west. previous next to the entrance, the remains of a second building. Baptism of the interior corridors with non-5 corridor outside the door which can be entered, this opens the main door of the church to 9. The middle door was a high gate Empire. 9 mosaic panels on it. YY. end have been made. an emperor is willing to intercede before Christ Pantokrator sitting on a throne in the middle. Mary in mosaics on the side are portraits of Mother and Archangel Gabriel. Visitors in the main part of the other figurative mosaics on the ceiling of the interior corridors and side aisles Justinian period orijinalleridir.yap meets splendid and immense space. From the first step of the dome effect is felt immediately.

It seems as if hanging in the air and covers the entire building. The walls and ceiling are covered with marble and mosaics, a festival of colors. 3 different shades of the dome mosaics 3 shows the different repair cycle. While the world with the height and diameter of the largest dome still one of the great dome. Dome made because of the repairs is not a complete circle. North – South diameters of 31, 87 m. East – West diameter of 30, 87 m. The height 55 and 60 m. 4 pendants on which the dome 4 angel figure takes place in closed faces.

Rectangle, separated by a wide central space next column 2, dark nephs. Central venue is 74.67 x 69.80 m. Downstairs in the gallery and has a total of 107 columns. Sophia column headings entire structure of the most characteristic and significant classic, 6. YY. Are examples of Byzantine ornamentation. deeply carved marble, which is a feature of their period, a beautiful light, shadow reveals. In the middle of Emperor monograms. The antique porphyry columns in the corners, made of green Thessaloniki marble pillars and all made of white marble, adorned the heads of the rich processing leads to the old days.

Hagia Sophia basilica was used as scrapes the empty mosque or a museum, flashy, mystical, different, it is necessary to imagine the old original appearance. A great empire in the early church, situated in front of the apse cycle is split, altar, ambo and other ceremonial utensils covered with gold and silver plate, they were decorated with ivory and jewels. Even some of the doors were covered with such precious metals. Latin invade all of them and some other pieces of architecture in Europe by removing the lap of the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus taşımıştı.apsis half dome is located right next to the archangel mosaics. Against the wall is destroyed, another angel figure.

Gallery level hanging on the walls, on the skin made of 7.5 m. The large dome diameter discs and inscription are reminded that the work is being used as a mosque. 19. YY. Written by the great masters of the period in the middle of this calligraphy is a masterpiece. Round table in God, the Prophet. Mohammed, 4 Caliphs and Hasan-Hussein names are written. beautiful examples of stained glass above the altar of the period built into the altar in the apse mosque, next to the pulpit and mevlithanlar balcony adds Turkish period. Located on the ground, made from pieces of colored marble frame portion, perhaps 12. century were added, the site where crowned Emperor.

Made of high quality marble is located in the middle of two global large cap space input side. The ancient origin of these vessels, now 16. century was brought from Bergama. In the northern corner of the building “sweating column”. surrounded by the bottom of a bronze band, there are plenty of tales and legends about the column that is a wish that can be inserted into the finger holes. The building has a ramp inside the north, the first of the buttresses supporting the outside. This ramp to the upper galleries. Building interior of the galleries surrounding the three magnificent space has a completely different direction. Empire has sections dedicated to women and church meetings.

North side of a 3 mosaic panels into a 3-figures in the south wing. South Gallery, under the sunlight coming through the side window, is the masterpiece of Byzantine mosaic art panels. The issue here, right in the middle of the wide range of final court scene “Diesis” known, is triple figures. Jesus, Mary, in the middle of his right, while the left Hz. Located Yahya. Different background mosaics are further increasing the beauty of the figures, it is supremely realistic facial expressions.

12 in the bottom of the southern gallery. YY. The mosaic panel, the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, Emperor II. Komnenus’un, Empress Irene is located in the side walls with Prince Alexius. Presented depicts the church donations, the leather pouch which should help gold. Hungarian-born empress’s race features fair skin and light hair color is evident. The second panel here, the board depicts Jesus sitting next to Empress Zoe and her third husband Constantine is Monomakhos’, Konstantin’n inscription above the head and scraped, was rebuilt. The original mosaic was Zoe’s first husband.

The board of the Empire and the donation of gratitude church family seen while leaving the museum to symbolize a large mosaic panels 10 edilmektedir.iç corridor. Is-century. Figures distorted perspective: In the middle of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, and in the city as well, offering models with models offering the Hagia Sophia Constantine the Great and Justinian.

Exit partially buried in the ground BC 2nd. Tarsus-century huge bronze doors that have perhaps been brought from a pagan temple, is used here again. Built in different cycles in the garden of the museum has works of Turkish art. These are the tombs of some of the sultans, school, time settings and configure the fountain house. East façade of the minaret 15, 16 in the west as well. They are joined in the century.


Field Trip 1 (Didem Özcan)

The palace of Antiochos near the Hippodrome of Constantinople was built in 416-418 and after the downfall of its founder, it became the imperial property. Then, in the 7th century it converted into a church of St. Euphemia and its ruins are still visible today as we examined in our field trip. It is known that this church survived until the end of the Byzantine Empire and its architecture and frescoes that depict the life of St. Euphemia reflect the Byzantium style. The palace consisted of two parts, a southern section, which is inaccessible to the public today and converted into the church and a northern part, which stays between the wall of Hippodrome and the Mese including a semi-circular portico. (more&hellip)


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