Search This Blog

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Hagia Sophia

The original Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) was dedicated in Constantinople on February 15, 342 but was burnt down and destroyed by rioters. A second church on the site was ordered by Theodosius II, who inaugurated it on October 10, 415. A fire started during the tumult of the Nika Revolt and burned the second Hagia Sophia to the ground in January 532.

Justinian I, the Byzantine (East Roman) emperor from 527 to 565, reconstructed Hagia Sophia. An enormous building shaped like a cross, Justinian intended it to be higher than any church built up before, to reach up to God. 10,000 workers spent five years rebuilding this magnificent center of worship. The interior was richly decorated with colored marble, silk, gold and silver and magnificent mosaics (see below). The emperor, together with the Patriarch Menas, inaugurated the new basilica on December 27, 537 – 5 years and 10 months after construction start – with much pomp.


Borrowing from several earlier architectural styles, Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus created the masterpiece of sixth-century Byzantium. Although they were not professional architects, Emperor Justinian chose them, presumably because they had helped construct some of his military works. At any rate, they applied mathematics to the structure in a manner new to architectural design.

The result was a work of grace and beauty, which became the center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity for many centuries. When Justinian entered the completed church he murmured, "Solomon, I have outdone thee."

Two earthquakes in 553 and 557 caused cracks in the main dome and eastern half-dome. The main dome collapsed completely during a subsequent earthquake on May 7, 558. The emperor ordered an immediate restoration  It reopened on December 23, 562.


Hagia Sophia was the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.

The Ottoman conqueror of Constantinople, Mehmet II, entered the magnificent Hagia Sophia cathedral on May 29, 1453 and turned it into a mosque.

By Arild Vågen - Wikipedia Commons

The Hagia Sophia was a mosque from 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on February 1, 1935.

No comments:

Post a Comment