Monday, November 22, 2010

Hagia Sophia, Turkey

Ayasofya or Hagia Sophia (Greek for "Holy Wisdom") is in İstanbul's Sultanahmet district near the Hippodrome and the Blue Mosque. It has been a church, a mosque and is now a museum.

It was dedicated in 360 and was the world's largest cathedral for a thousand years.

In 1204, Constantinople was sacked by the Latin Crusaders and the golden mosaics in Hagia Sophia were shipped off to Venice.

Then in 1453, the Ottoman Turks conquered the city and the building was converted to an imperial mosque.

The church bells, alter and other Christian paraphernalia were removed and replaced with a mihrab, minbar and four minarets.

Since Islam bans representational imagery, many of the church's mosaics were simply plastered over.

It remained a mosque until 1935 when it was converted in to a museum.

Turkish law now prohibits it from being used as a place of worship, either as a church or as a mosque.

Hagia Sophia is considered the greatest surviving example of Byzantine architecture, especially the dome.

Update 2020:  Turkey's president Erdogan converted Hagia Sophia back into a mosque. 

©NBC News

Update 2023:  Here's a short TED-Ed video I found on YouTube about Hagia Sophia.


1 comment:

  1. Maybe I missed it in your post, but have you seen the Yerebatan Cistern as well? It's absolutely amazing, I loved it