Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) | 8th Wonder of the World | Travel Guide
Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya in Turkish), a famous historical place located in Sultanahmet, Istanbul, is a museum which holds an interesting history. Hagia Sophia Museum is also sometimes referred to as the eighth wonder of the world. It is of great value in Turkish Art because of its functionality, grandness, size, and architecture.
The word “Hagia Sophia” means “The Divine Wisdom” in Greek. Today, some people dedicate this museum name to a Saint Sophia but it’s not true as its name was dedicated to the holy wisdom as it was an orthodox church in the early Byzantine history. Later, it also served as an Ottoman Mosque before conversion to a museum in 1935 CE. It is considered as the world’s heritage by UNESCO. It is also one of the best surviving examples of Byzantine’s architecture.
The Hagia Sophia Church (360 CE)
Hagia Sophia, the first biggest church was constructed by Emperor Konstantinos (337-361 CE) of the Eastern Roman Empire in 360 CE and it was named Megale Ekklesia (Big Church). It was a wooden structure that was burned down because of the discrepancies between the wife of Emperor Arkadios (395-408 CE), Empress Eudoksia and Istanbul’s patriarch Ioannes Chrysostomos. This patriarch’s portrait is also present on the Tymphanon wall in the northern part of the museum. No other signs of the first built church are present except the bricks founded in the storage which has been predicted to be the part of the first construction.
Later, Emperor Theodosios II (408-450) built a second church in 415 CE which was also covered by a wooden roof. This second Hagia Sophia church was also demolished during the period of Nika revolts in which the Greens (representing the tradesman and merchants) and Blues (representing the aristocrats) revolted against the Empire in the reign of Emperor Justinianos (527-565 CE). Some remains of this second church are also present in the west garden.
The Hagia Sophia Mosque (1453 CE)
For the third time, the Hagia Sophia church was constructed by Emperor Justinianos (527-565) within five years and started service on 27th December 532 CE. In the 13th century, Istanbul was conquered by the Latins around 1204 CE and took back by the Eastern Rome around 1261 CE. When Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror (Sultan Muhammad Fatih) conquered Istanbul in 1453 CE, Hagia Sophia church was converted into a mosque. The structure of the Hagia Sophia mosque was renovated and well protected during the Ottoman period. Sultan Muhammad Fatih also started the construction of a madrasah which was abolished in the 17th century and later completed by Sultan Abdulmajid (1839-1861 CE). After the demise of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 CE, Hagia Sophia Mosque was converted into a museum by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1935 CE.
Amazing facts about Design and Sections
The current structure has three nefi, internal and external narthex, and one apsi. Dome’s height is 55.60 m having a radius of 31.87 m in North-South direction and 30,86 m in East-West direction. The marble used in its construction was also imported as the white marble came from Marmara Island and the green from Egriboz Island. The columns supporting the dome came from Egypt. The complete structure has 104 columns. All the walls of the structure have been decorated by the mosaics of Gold, Silver, Terra Cota, Glass, and different colorful stones. The two bronze lamps on the sides of mihrab were the gifts given by the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (Al-Kanuni 1520-1566 CE). Two marble cubes on both sides of the main entrance were also gifts given by the Sultan Murad III (1574-1595 CE) which came from Bergama. The well-known biggest calligraphic panels in the Islamic World are also present there which read “ALLAH (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى), Hazrat Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم), Hazrat Abubakar (رضي الله عنه), Hazrat Ömer (رضي الله عنه), Hazrat Osman (رضي الله عنه), Hazrat Ali (رضي الله عنه), Hazrat Hasan (رضي الله عنه) and Hazrat Hüseyin (رضي الله عنه)”.
Visit Information and Guide
Hagia Sophia Museum is open for the visitors from Tuesday to Sunday except Monday until further notice. During winters, its timing is 9:00 am to 5:00 pm with the entrance closed exactly at 4:00 pm. During summers, its timing is 9:00 am to 7:00 pm with the entrance closed exactly at 6:00 pm. You have to be aware of public holidays and religious festivals.
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