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Hagia Sophia – Istanbul, Turkey

General Knowledge | 7-14 yrs | Interactive

The Hagia Sophia is a domed monument which was built as a cathedral in Constantinople but later transformed into a museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

History of Hagia Sophia

It was built in the 6th century A.D. Hagia Sophia means the Church of Holy wisdom. It was built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian the 1st and has been one of the world’s most important structures since. It was built in a short span of just 6 years, very quick for construction during that period of time. Today the Hagia Sophia is a component of the Unesco’s World Heritage site, historic areas of Istanbul.

Hagia Sophia Architecture

The Hagia Sophia contains two floors, and sits on a nave that has a huge dome shaped ceiling on top and is supported by smaller domes above. The structure is known for its strength as it is not built in steel and the design speaks of its uniqueness. In the 1400 years of Hagia Sophia, this structure has served as a cathedral, a mosque and is now a well known museum.

The original construction of Hagia Sophia was inspired by a Pagan temple. But it got destroyed in a fire created by riots. Later it was rebuilt and enlarged by the Roman emperor. This church was burnt again during the Nika insurrection, another riot. A new Hagia Sophia was built, although an earthquake had caused partial damage to the dome. It was restored again in the 14th century and served as a cathedral for more than a millennium. It was later looted by the Venetians and crusaders. After the Turkish conquest, Mehmed II had the Hagia Sophia turn into a mosque. He added the minarat (A slender tower, typically part of a mosque) for prayers, a chandelier, and a mihrab (A niche in the wall of a mosque towards which the congregation faces to pray).

3 Interesting Facts About Hagia Sophia

  1. Hagia Sophia is not only famous for its history but also its beautiful mosaics which art historians consider as the main source of knowledge.
  2. The mosaics contain images of the imperial family, Christ and different emperors. The Apse mosaic, one of the largest inside the Hagia Sophia contains the image of the Virgin Mary carrying baby Jesus. This mosaic is 13 feet tall. Each emperor that ruled the region over the years added one of his own mosaic to the Hagia Sophia.
  3. The building was secularised by the Government of Turkey in 1934 and in 1935 the Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum. Research, repair and restoration work continues till day at the Hagia Sophia.