Explore a Mystery: HAGIA SOPHIA

Updated: Oct 14, 2021



Hagia Sophia is the best reason to visit Istanbul and witness the holiness of this edifice to let its magic mesmerize you.


A fascinating city built on two Continents, Istanbul is the crown of the Bosphorus. It is one of the most beautiful and colorful cities in the world. Being the city of contrasts, here you can find everything; from ancient monuments to ultra modern engineering marvels. Istanbul is the center of unique cultural and historical sites of world significance.


It is a city of countless ancient churches, mosques, palaces, fortresses, squares, and fountains. Thousands of years of historical monuments and modern art galleries are located here side by side. In simple words, you can describe Istanbul as an open air museum.


The Hagia Sophia Mosque is perhaps the most significant exhibition of this museum. It is so majestic and beautiful that it can undoubtedly be considered a real wonder of the world. The mosque is located on the top of the first hill of Constantinople, at the tip of the historical peninsula washed by the waters of the Marmara Sea, the Bosphorus Strait, and The Golden Horn Bay.


Hagia Sophia - Construction History


Hagia Sophia was built on the site of a Basilica in 360 during the reign of Constantine II. Fires destroyed the Basilica twice, yet it was completely rebuilt in 415. However, misfortunes seemed to haunt the church in 532, it was completely destroyed by participants in a rebellion against Emperor Justinian I. After the suppression of the revolt in 532, construction of a new church, the Hagia Sophia, began on this site. The temple was destroyed several times due to earthquakes, but it was always restored. On May 29, 1453, Mehmed the Conqueror conquered the city of Constantinople and immediately went to the church. Struck by its beauty and grandeur, the Sultan decided to turn it into an Imperial mosque. Thus, after serving as a symbol of Christianity for nine centuries, in 1453 the Cathedral became the Hagia Sophia Mosque.


Hagia Sophia remained the great mosque of the Ottoman capital until its secession from the state by the government of the Turkish Republic in 1934. In 1935, the Meletian masterpiece became the most famous museum in the world.



Interior of the Hagia Sophia


Hagia Sophia is a type of domed Basilica. And it is the dome, symbolizing the sky, that has become one of the main decorations of the structure.


The walls of the cathedral are lined with marble panels with various colors and shades. Green and red marble imported from Egypt, yellow Numidian, oriental white with a yellowish tint, white and purple Phrygian, as well as marble from the Greek town of Karithos, were used to create its interior grandeur. The plates are arranged in such a way that the fancy ornaments can change their colors according to the sun’s rays.


“Muslim prayers have been held in the iconic Hagia Sophia for the first time in 86 years after the reconversion of the Istanbul landmark into a mosque.”


In the upper galleries, you can see several mosaic panels depicting Emperor Alexander, Empress Zoe, and her husband, Emperor Constantine IX. However, the interior of the cathedral is decorated not only with mosaics but also with luxurious gilding and paintings.


According to legends…


Because of the supernatural beauty of the Hagia Sophia, many legends have appeared among the people, including the participation of heavenly patrons in the construction of the church. For example, Justinian had a dream in which an angel allegedly told the Emperor the plan for the construction of Hagia Sophia.


There are 361 doors in the temple. One hundred and one of them are large and covered with symbols. They say that every time they are counted, new ones are discovered. By order of the Emperor, the temple and the imperial palace were connected by a network of underground tunnels. To prevent them from collapsing, Hagia Sophia was built using powerful marble columns.


Another notable attraction of the Hagia Sophia is the cat Gli. She acts as the guardian and owner of the Hagia Sophia. She is the most famous cat in Istanbul with her own Instagram account. Visitors may come across Gli often just sitting or walking at the Omphalion, the navel in Greek, where all the Emperors were crowned in the past.


And very recently, the number of Mosques has increased by one in Istanbul! It is exciting that Turkish officials have repeatedly made clear that like all mosques in the country, the building will be open to visitors, who will no longer have to pay entry fees to visit the site.


Hagia Sophia is the best reason to visit Istanbul and witness the holiness of this edifice to let its magic mesmerize you.




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