Hagia Sophia or Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

Let’s go to ancient Rome, after ancient Byzantium, in its golden age, during the reign from Emperor Constantine 1 the Great and his successors to the Ottoman Empire and consider a stunning architectural monument.

A bit of history

The years of foundation and years of construction vary in different sources, but if we take more official sources, we will indicate some dates. The first church on this site was founded in 324 AD, just under Constantine. She bore the name of Hagia Sophia and burned down in 404 during the uprising.

A second church was built in its place and it was also destroyed by fire in 415. Emperor Theodosius II orders to build a new church on the same place and it was built in one year and in 532 it was also destroyed and also by fire during the next uprising. When excavations were carried out already in the 20th century, the ruins of this very third basilica were discovered. I think some of them are in the open-air museum on the territory of Hagia Sophia.

Emperor Justinian in 532, immediately after the last uprising, decided to lay a new church of Hagia Sophia, which should not only decorate the capital, but also show all the greatness of the empire. Additional plots of land were purchased for a new church, the best architects of the time were invited, and 10,000 workers were allocated.

The new cathedral was not only unique, it was a revolution in the architecture of that time. The best materials that could be found were used in this temple. Other buildings were dismantled to take architectural details.

There is a legend that when Justinian entered the newly built church, he uttered the words: “Solomon, I have surpassed you!”. The temple was consecrated in 537. It was and is the same building that we see. Of course, it has undergone many more changes since the time of Justinian, but you can understand the scale of the building.

This temple presented a wonderful sight — for those who looked at it, it seemed exceptional, for those who heard about it — absolutely incredible. In height, it rises as if to the sky, and, like a ship on the high waves of the sea, it stands out among other buildings, as if leaning over the rest of the city, decorating it as an integral part of it, it itself is decorated with it, since, being a part of it and entering into its composition, it stands out above it so much that from it you can see the whole city, at a glance

Procopius of Caesarea.

The misfortunes that visited the previous buildings did not bypass the new basilica. A few years after the construction of Hagia Sophia, during an earthquake, the dome and part of the walls collapse. The destroyed dome was flatter, the new one was built higher and seemed to be pointed.

In 989 another earthquake hit the dome again. In 1204, the crusaders attacked the temple and completely destroyed it. One of the values ​​of this temple at that time was the Shroud of Turin, which the Crusaders took away and took away.

Floor of an old basilica Floor of an old basilica

In 1453, on the night of May 28-29, the last Christian service was held in this cathedral. And on May 29, Constantinople was captured by Sultan Mehmed II, and already on May 30, he himself sang a sura from the Koran here and the cathedral became a mosque.

Numerous changes were made, the frescoes were covered with plaster, thanks to which we can see them in their original form. After all, the frescoes are thus perfectly preserved and have survived to this day.

The new Hagia Sophia mosque was taken as a model and a lot of mosques were later built according to this “project”, but they were superior in size and some architectural features. It makes no sense to touch on further historical data, let’s move on to considering the details of the building.

Byzantine frescoes. They were cleared of plaster in 1935, when the mosque was turned into a museum and we can observe and examine them in detail. By the way, the museum became a mosque only in 2020.

And now about personal impressions. Incredible awe that you feel when you enter here. The scale of the building is breathtaking. I wanted to lie on the carpet and look at the domes, I would have done so if it had been warm there. I was struck by carved columns, multiple domes, paintings and chandeliers. Low-hanging huge lamps seem to float in the air and the space seems even more spacious.

I really liked the openwork stucco. It is clearly often touched by people, because at a certain height everything is worn out and the gilding has come off.

By the way, whoever watched The Magnificent Century knows about the events associated with Suleiman the Magnificent and the conquest of Buda in Hungary. So, the bronze candlesticks on both sides of the mihrab (a niche in the wall of the mosque indicating the direction to Mecca) were brought by Suleiman from Buda. I didn’t shoot them large, because I learned about this fact already while writing this article.

Well, cats, there are a lot of them, of all kinds and colors. Walk around the mosque freely. By the way, there is a separate article about them:

Attitude towards animals in Istanbul. It’s amazing THREE WITH A CAMERAJuly 15

We leave Hagia Sophia through the side door and find ourselves in the courtyard. It’s also an open-air museum. There are several exhibits of the museum in the article above, and now let’s look at the building from this side.

I hope the article was interesting and opened something new for you in world culture. Friends, please express your opinion about this article by commenting and liking, I will be very grateful to you! Thanks to🙏

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