Saint Sophia Church Museum
Saint Sophia Church (Hagia Sophia) represented Byzantine Rome, and it was the cathedral of the emperor.
It was the greatest church in Christian world for almost a thousand
years and represented the highest achievements of the Roman Empire.
Haghia Sophia Church was erected and re-erected many
times throughout centuries. A number of churches stood with the same
name at the same place. They were either burnt down or destroyed by
There have been changes in the structure of the
church through all those centuries, of course… The dome rests on pillars and it has been rebuilt several
Considering it is nearly
1500 years old and it stands atop one of the most active earthquake
zones, these changes are totally normal…
Did you know?
In 1317, a series of
buttresses were added to fortify the structure when there was a danger
The original dome almost crushed the whole building because the
supporting walls were not strong enough.
Good to know before you get in:
- The four minarets of Hagia Sophia were added to the building at various times after the conquest.
fortifications on the exterior were built by Sinan, the Chief
Architect, during the reign of Sultan Selim II (1566-77) when the church
started to represent signs of destruction. Two identical minarets were
added during this fortification process.
- Saint Sophia (Hagia Sophia) Church is considered to be one of the architectural wonders of the world.
Hagia Sophia Church (Saint Sophia) that we know was built in the 6th
century by the Emperor Justinian on the foundations of a previous
church. To be exact, the construction was finished on 26 December AD
- Emperor Justinian's cathedral was crowned by
the largest dome ever constructed which is the source of its great
fame. And it held that record over a thousand years, until the
construction of St Peter's Cathedral in Rome, in 1626.
dome is slightly elliptical. The east-west diameter is nearly 31 m. and
the North-south diameter is nearly 33 m. The crown of the dome rises 56
m. above the floor.
- All of the biblical treasures
and other valuable artifacts in Hagia Sophia Church were
lost in 1204, when Christendom's Fourth Crusade invaded the city. The
crusaders ripped the city apart, carried off everything valuable
including the ones in Saint Sophia Church.
- The church has been fortified and repaired on several occasions during both the Byzantine Empire and Ottoman Empire periods.
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Necessary info about Saint Sophia:
You can see it at the North-east corner of Sultanahmet Square.
Open daily between 09:00-19:30, except Mondays.
Entrance fee: TL 20 (~ 10 Euro, 13 Dollars)
Get in and witness the grandeur feeling!
at this magnificent monument from the outside is not enough; you should
see the interior and feel the spaciousness for yourself.
windows below the dome lets the light in the building and makes the
interior seem differently at different times of the day.
interior of Hagia Sophia is beautifully decorated. A great variety of
rare and beatiful marbles were used for the revetments of the piers and
You can walk around the upper gallery and see the
paintings and exquisite mosaics of Saints which are considered to among
world’s art treasures and cultural heritage.
the giant dome and the light-infused interior have been a great
inspiration for places of worship for centuries.
fully understand the historical context and the importance of Saint
Sophia Church (Hagia Sophia), you’d better see other remnants of Roman
Empire like cisterns, Hippodrome etc, which are very close. This makes
it easier to fully appreciate the engineering and urban planning in
When Constantinople was conquered by Fatih Sultan Mehmet, the Conqueror, it was converted to a mosque.
Today it serves as a museum, open to people of all faiths.
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