Hagia Sophia description and photos - Turkey: Istanbul (Topic)

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Hagia Sophia description and photos - Turkey: Istanbul

Hagia Sophia description and photos - Turkey: Istanbul

Hagia Sophia description and photos - Turkey: Istanbul. Detailed information about the attraction. Description, photographs and a map showing the nearest significant objects. The title in English is Hagia Sophia.

Photo and description

Hagia Sophia, or Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, is a famous architectural monument of the Byzantine era and a symbol of its prosperity. For almost a thousand years, Hagia Sophia was considered the largest building in the world. It is located on the site of the ancient acropolis, on a hill from which the history of Istanbul (Byzantium, Constantinople, Constantinople) began.

The construction of the temple began in 324 under Constantine to commemorate his autocracy over the Roman Empire, and lasted 13 years ... As a result of the opposition of adherents of different interpretations of the doctrine of Christ, the temple passed from hand to hand. From 360 to 380 years the building of Hagia Sophia was owned by the Arians, one of the branches of Christianity, until Theodosius I convened the Council of Bishops in Constantinople, where Arianism was condemned. The emperor personally introduced a new abbot, Gregory the Theologian, to the cathedral.

The temple functioned safely until 404, when it burned down during the riots. The restored cathedral stood for about 10 years and was again destroyed by fire. By the decree of Emperor Theodosius II in 415 a basilica was built in its place. During a popular uprising against the rule of Justinian I in 532, the basilica was burned down. The temples preceding Hagia Sophia can only be understood from the ruins found during excavations.

Byzantine period


Forty days after the fire, Emperor Justinian ordered to build a new temple. To expand the territory of the complex, the nearby plots were purchased and cleared from buildings. Every day about 10 thousand workers were involved at the construction site under the guidance of the best architects of that time. For the construction, the best building materials were brought, columns of porphyry and marble were sent from the ancient temples of Rome and Ephesus.

Silver and gold were used in the decoration of the temple: the story of a pilgrim - Archbishop of Novgorod - about the altar cross "in two human heights »From gold, lamps and other precious paraphernalia. The wealth of the temple amazed the imagination, gave birth to legends about the participation of angels and the Mother of God in its construction. Still, the income of the Byzantine Empire for three years was spent on the construction of the cathedral. Finally, in 537, after the consecration of the Patriarch of Constantinople Mina, the temple was solemnly opened. However, the long-suffering cathedral was again partially destroyed, this time by earthquakes. To support him, pillars were installed, a new dome was erected.

St. Sophia Cathedral is known for a significant event - in July 1054, the presentation of an excommunication letter from the Pope to Patriarch Michael of Constantinople, which is considered the beginning of the division of the Church into Catholic and Orthodox.

Not a church, not a mosque, but a museum


The last Christian service was held in the church on the night of May 28-29, 1453. Right during the liturgy, the cathedral was captured by the Turks, all the parishioners inside were killed, and the precious decorations were looted. Sultan Mehmed entered Hagia Sophia on May 30 of the same year as a mosque. Four minarets were attached to it, mosaics and frescoes on the walls were covered with plaster. In the middle of the 16th century, buttresses were added to the building, making the appearance heavier, but saving it from destruction. The restoration of the mosque was carried out in 1847-1849 to protect the building from collapse.

The first president of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, granted the status of a museum to the Hagia Sophia mosque. Wall paintings and mosaics were cleaned of layers of plaster, and in 1936, during excavations, the remains of the original basilicas from the times of Constantine and Theodosius were discovered. Since 2006, the museum has allowed employees of the complex to conduct Muslim ceremonies in a specially designated room.

What to see in Hagia Sophia


The Hagia Sophia building is a domed basilica, decorated with semicircular niches and galleries with columns. Some of the carved stone decorations are made of red Egyptian porphyry. The columns supporting the galleries and the walls under the dome are made of green antique marble, while the columns of the upper galleries and the walls of the apses are Thessalian marble. In the western gallery you can see a large circle of green marble - this is the place of the empress's throne.

Under the arches of the southern gallery and in the narthex, unique golden mosaics of the 6th century have been preserved. If you give free rein to your imagination, you can imagine what the temple looked like in the flickering candlelight reflected in the golden mosaics.

In the apse, you can see the throne image of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus on her knees. On the sides of the Virgin Mary were depicted two archangels, but only the mosaic with the Archangel Gabriel has survived.

Later mosaics (VII-X centuries) depicting figures can be seen in the narthex, nave, upper gallery. Of particular note are the following:

  • The Deesis with images of Christ Pantokrator, the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist is located in the south gallery. The mosaic is partially damaged, but the faces are in good condition.
  • The mosaic depicting Christ and the Emperor with the Empress on the eastern wall of the southern gallery. It is believed that these are images of Emperor Constantine IX Monomakh and Empress Zoe.
  • A mosaic depicting the Virgin Mary and Child, Emperor John II Comnenus, Empress Irene and their son Alexis, who died shortly after the creation of this image, is also in the southern gallery.
  • A mosaic depicting the Virgin Mary with the Child surrounded by two emperors is located in the narthex of the Warriors. To the right of the Mother of God is the Emperor Justinian with a model of Hagia Sophia in his palm, and to the left is the Emperor Constantine with a plan of the city of Constantinople.

Some places of interest are considered to be the "cold window", from where a cool breeze blows even in the heat; a copper-clad "weeping column" from which healing moisture oozed; "Runic inscriptions" left by the Varangians who served the emperor.

The mihrab, the minbar, the Sultan's box and the Arabic script have survived from the mosque.


  • Location: Istanbul, Cankurtaran Mh., Soguk Cesme Sk 14-36
  • How to get there: tram T1 or bus TV2, stop. Sultanahmet.
  • Official website:
  • Opening hours: daily from 15.04 to 30.10 from 9:00 to 19:00, from 30.10 to 15.04 from 9:00 to 15:00 ... The time of visiting the museum is limited during the first days of Ramadan and Eid al-Adha.
  • Tickets: 40 TRY.
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Topic: Hagia Sophia description and photos - Turkey: Istanbul.Hagia Sophia description and photos - Turkey: Istanbul

Author: Kelly Costine