Hagia Sophia

 

The Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

Photo courtesy of fsalliau on webshots.com

What: A Christian church that was converted into a Muslim mosque, but is currently a museum. It is covered by a dome with a diameter of 102 ft (31 meters) that is covered by glasses allowing light to illuminate the interior. The Hagia Sophia is a beautiful example of Byzantinian architecture. It stands 56 meters high in the middle of the high done. The building is made up of four triangular sections, each absorbing the weight of the central dome, and connected to each other wit rich arches. The inside is decorated with Polychrome marbles, porphyryl and gold mosaics covering brick. The outside walls are stuccoed to focus attention on the glass and majesty of the building itself. The Church became a Catholic cathedral in the Latin Occupation 1204-1261, and converted into a mosque when the Turks invaded Constantinople in 1453. It remained a Muslim place of worship until in 1935 when it was turned into the Ayasofya Museum. Hagia Sophia means Church of the Holy Wisdom of God. It is sometimes called Saint Sophia in English, but is not named after a saint named Sophia. 
Where: Istanbul, Turkey
When: Built in the 4th century, the original church was destroyed and a second one was built to take its place by Constantius. This one was burned down during riots in 532 and then rebuilt in 537 under supervision of Emperor Justinian I. It has been damaged and renovated several times because of earthquakes.
Why: The Hagia Sophia was built as the seat for the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople and was a place for Byzantine imperial ceremonies.
Interesting fact: Islam preached that to create anything in the human form would be blasphemous, therefore much of the Christian art that adorned the walls were removed or covered with Muslim art. During the 20th century restorations, restorers found a lot of Christian art still salvageable, but some might still lie under Islamic calligraphy. In order to fully restore the Christian art, some Islamic art must be removed. There is much controversy about this issue, should the Islamic art be removed so the underlying mosaic can be exhibited, or not?

 

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