Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), officially the Holy Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque (Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i Şerifi), and formerly the Church of Hagia Sophia, is a Late Antique place of worship in Istanbul, designed by the Greek geometers Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles.
Constantinople’s patriarchal cathedral was built in 537 and served as the largest Christian church of the eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire) and the Eastern Orthodox Church until 1204, when it became the city’s Latin Catholic cathedral.
In 1453, after the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire, Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque.
In 1935, the secular Turkish Republic established it as a museum.
In 2020, it re-opened as a mosque.
Built by the Eastern Roman emperor Justinian I as the Christian cathedral of Constantinople for the state church of the Roman Empire between 532 and 537, the church was then the world’s most significant interior space and among the first to employ a full pendentive dome.
It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have “changed the history of architecture.”
The present Justinianic building was the third church of the same name to occupy the site, as the prior one had been destroyed in the Nika riots.
As the episcopal see of the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, it remained the world’s largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.
With subsequent Byzantine architecture, Hagia Sophia became the paradigmatic Orthodox church form, and its architectural style was emulated by Ottoman mosques a thousand years later.
It has been described as “holding a unique position in the Christian world” and an architectural and cultural icon of Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox civilization.
The church was dedicated to the Holy Wisdom, the Logos, the second person of the Trinity.
Its patronal feast falls on 25 December (Christmas), commemorating the incarnation of the Logos in Christ.
Wisdom is spelled out in Latin with the word Sophia. Although it is sometimes referred to as Sancta Sophia, ‘Saint Sophia,’ it is not related to Sophia the Martyr.
The center of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly one thousand years was where Humbert officially delivered the ex-communication of Patriarch Michael I Cerularius of Silva Candida, the envoy of Pope Leo IX in 1054, an act that is commonly considered the start of the East-West Schism.
In 1204, it was converted by the Fourth Crusaders to a Latin Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire, before being restored to the Eastern Orthodox Church upon the return of the Byzantine Empire in 1261. The doge of Venice who led the Fourth Crusade and the 1204 Sack of Constantinople, Enrico Dandolo, was buried in the church.
Mehmed the Conqueror converted it into a mosque after Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1453.
The patriarchate moved to the Church of the Holy Apostles, which became the city’s cathedral.
Although some parts of the city had fallen into disrepair, the cathedral had been maintained with funds set aside for this purpose, and the Christian cathedral made a strong impression on the new Ottoman rulers who conceived its conversion.
The bells, altar, iconostasis, ambo, and baptistery were removed and relics destroyed.
Ultimately, the mosaics depicting Jesus, Mary, Christian saints, and angels were destroyed or plastered over.
Islamic architectural features were added, such as a minbar (pulpit), four minarets, and a mihrab – a niche indicating the direction of prayer (qibla).
The Blue Mosque, commonly called the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, was constructed nearby in 1616 and was Istanbul’s principal mosque for over 400 years, from its initial conversion to the Blue Mosque’s construction.
The Byzantine architecture of the Hagia Sophia served as inspiration for many other religious buildings, including the Hagia Sophia, Thessaloniki, Panagia Ekatontapiliani, the Şehzade Mosque, the Süleymaniye Mosque, the Rüstem Pasha Mosque, and the Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex.
The complex remained a mosque until 1931 when it was closed to the public for four years.
It was re-opened in 1935 as a museum by the secular Republic of Turkey.
According to data released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 2015 and 2019, the Hagia Sophia was Turkey’s most visited tourist attraction.
In early July 2020, the Council of State annulled the Cabinet’s 1934 decision to establish the museum, revoking the monument’s status, and a subsequent decree by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered the reclassification of Hagia Sophia as a mosque.
The decree was deemed illegal under Ottoman and Turkish law since Hagia Sophia’s waqf, endowed by Sultan Mehmed, designated the site as a mosque; supporters of the decision argued the Hagia Sophia was sultan’s property.
This redesignation is controversial, drawing condemnation from the Turkish opposition, UNESCO, the World Council of Churches, the International Association of Byzantine Studies, and many international leaders.
🏨 Hotels Near Hagia Sophia
|Hotel Uyan||📍 Cankurtaran, Utangaç Sk. No:25, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||📞 +90 212 518 92 55||booking.com/hotel/tr/uyan.tr.html|
|Zeynep Sultan Hotel||📍 Alemdar, Zeynep Sultan Cami Sk. No:25, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||📞 +90 212 514 50 01||zeynepsultanhotel.com/|
|The Empress Theodora Hotel||📍 Cankurtaran, Alemdar Cd. No:22, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||📞 +90 212 514 89 89||empresstheodorahotel.com/|
|Sura Design Hotel & Suites||📍 Alemdar, Ticarethane Sk. No: 13, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||📞 +90 212 513 66 66||surahotels.com/sura-design-hotel|
|GLK PREMIER Regency Suites & Spa||📍 Cankurtaran, Akbıyık Cd. No:46, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||📞 +90 530 568 25 68||regencysuitesistanbul.com/|
|DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel İstanbul Sirkeci||📍 Nobethane Cad., Darussade Sk. No:5, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||📞 +90 212 513 25 50||hilton.com/en/hotels/istsidi-doubletree-istanbul-sirkeci/|
|The And Hotel||📍 Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd. No:18, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||📞 +90 212 512 02 07||andhotel.com/|
|Aya Sultanahmet Hotel||📍 Cankurtaran, Kutlugün Sk. No:31, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||📞 +90 212 527 51 00||ayasultanahmethotel.com/|
|Celal Sultan Hotel Special Class||📍 Alemdar, Alemdar Mh Yerebatan Cd, Salkım Söğüt Sk. No:14, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||📞 +90 212 520 93 23||celalsultan.com/|
|Genius Hotel İstanbul||📍 Cankurtaran, Kutlugün Sk. No: 9, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||📞 +90 544 340 27 46||geniushotelistanbul.com/|
🎉 Tourist attractions Near Hagia Sophia
|Tomb of Sultan Mehmed III||📍 Cankurtaran, Kabasakal Cd. No:1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Historical landmark|
|Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts||📍 Binbirdirek, Atmeydanı Cd. No:12, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Museum|
|Gülhane Park||📍 Cankurtaran, Kennedy Cd., 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Park|
|Museum of Great Palace Mosaics||📍 Sultanahmet Mahallesi Kabasakal Cad. Arasta Çarşısı Sok. No. 53, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Museum|
|Hagia Irene||📍 Cankurtaran, Topkapı Sarayı No:1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Museum|
|Little Hagia Sophia||📍 Küçük Ayasofya Mahallesi, Küçük Ayasofya Camii Sokagi No:20, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Mosque|
|Sultan Ahmet Park||📍 Binbirdirek, Sultan Ahmet Parkı No:2, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Park|
|Sultan Ahmet Tomb||📍 Sultan Ahmet, Sultan Ahmet Kabasakal Cad, Dalbastı Sk. No:2, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Historical landmark|
|The Blue Mosque||📍 Sultan Ahmet, Atmeydanı Cd. No:7, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Mosque|
|Sultanahmet Square||📍 Binbirdirek, Sultan Ahmet Parkı No:2, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Tourist attraction|