Hagia Sophia Mosque… ONCE A CHURCH, LATER A MOSQUE
MASTERPIECE OF THE HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE
Hagia Sophia Mosque / Ayasofya-i Kebir Camii, with its innovative architecture, rich history, religious significance and extraordinary characteristics has been fighting against time for centuries, is the largest Eastern Roman Church in Istanbul. Constructed three times in the same location, it is the world’s oldest and fastest-completed cathedral. With its breathtaking domes that look like hanging in the air, monolithic marble columns and unparalleled mosaics, is one of the wonders of world’s architecture history.
The Hagia Sophia Church (360 CE –)
The structure that stands today was actually the third church to be built on this site. The first two (built in 360 CE and 415 CE respectively) were both razed to the ground in troubled Byzantine times. Emperor Justinian commissioned the current building in the sixth century as a Greek Orthodox Church that would outdo the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. It took just five years and the manpower of nearly 11,000 people to erect the structure that was the largest Christian church in the world for nearly a thousand years. In 1204, the Crusaders displaced the Patriarch of Constantinople with a Latin bishop, which is why much of its original relics can now be found in St. Mark’s Basillica in Venice.
The Hagia Sophia Mosque (1453 – )
Following the capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, and the subsequent pillaging that ensued, Mehmet the Conqueror declared the Hagia Sophia a mosque, and said his prayers there the very next Friday. As a mosque, people considered it as one of the holiest Islamic temples of the world. It also served as Istanbul’s principal mosque for nearly 500 years and a model for many others including the Sultan Ahmed Mosque , the Suleymaniye Mosque and the Rustem Pasha Mosque.
The Hagia Sophia Museum (1935– 2020)
Under the order of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the Council of Ministers the Hagia Sophia Turkey opened as a museum in 1935., It was being visited by nearly 10,000 people per day and the Turkish Ministry of Tourism declared that it received more than 3 million visitors in 2013. The Hagia Sophia ticket price was 100 TL, but be warned unless you buy your ticket in advance or go with a tour guide, there are often long queues. Its opening hours are Tuesday – Sunday from 9 am – 6 pm.
On Friday, July 10, the status of Hagia Sophia was legally converted into a mosque after the country’s highest court, the Council of State, revoked a 1934 cabinet decision that turned the edifice into a museum.
Amazing Facts about Hagia Sophia..
The dome of the Hagia Sophia Turkey is 180 feet high and 100 feet wide and was considered a revolution in the history of architecture. Today, the massive dome is surrounded by four minarets which were built during the Ottoman period.
Most of the Christian mosaics of the temple are located in the upper gallery of the temple, which was once the woman’s section during both the Byzantine and Ottoman eras. The oldest mosaic dates back to the 9th century CE.