Hagia Sophia (Turkish: Ayasofya) is situated on a hill overlooking the Sea of Marmara and the
Bosporus and greets far visibly incoming cruise ships to Istanbul with
its minarets and magnificent dome. 532-537 emperor Justinian erected
the greatest Church in the ancient Christian world. The bold structure
was a combination of Roman Basilica and domed Roman central building, the
central element of which was a dome with a diameter of 101,7 ft (31 m)
and a height of 160,7 ft. (49 m) after the example of Hadrian's Pantheon
in Rome. Neither in Byzantine nor Osmane days this dimension ever was surpassed.
After several seismic shocks however the dome imploded in 558. The dome
we see today is 23 ft (7 m) higher and was consecrated in 562.
Daylight is flooding the church through 91 windows, illuminating the
incredible beauty of the interior, which is adorned with marble tiles,
elaborate, colourful mosaics and pictures, created from ceramics, precious
and semiprecious stones, gold... The structure of the interior and the
play of light convey the impression of weightlessness, which certainly
contributed to the churches legendary fame.
Thanks to its grandeur and beauty the church served as a house of God
even under the reign of Osmane Sultans all together for 1386 years! After
the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 by the Turks under Mehmed II, the
Hagia Sophia was used as mosque until the Turkish republic was founded
in 1923! Today it is a museum.