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 earthquakes.
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 times.
Considering it is nearly 1500 years old and it stands atop one of the most active earthquake zones, these changes are totally normal…
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.
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)
Looking at this magnificent monument from the outside is not enough; you should see the interior and feel the spaciousness for yourself.
Fourty windows below the dome lets the light in the building and makes the interior seem differently at different times of the day.
The interior of Hagia Sophia is beautifully decorated. A great variety of rare and beatiful marbles were used for the revetments of the piers and walls.
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.
Mosaics, paintings, the giant dome and the light-infused interior have been a great inspiration for places of worship for centuries.
Remember, to 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 Roman Empire.
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.