The Hagia Sophia Cathedral


Points Covered:


  • History of Hagia Sophia Cathedral
  • The architecture of the Hagia Sophia Cathedral
  • Why is the Hagia Sophia Famous 
  • Is the Blue Mosque the Same as the Hagia Sophia Cathedral?
  • Best time to Visit Hagia Sophia Cathedral


The Hagia Sophia cathedral, meaning “Holy wisdom” is a fascinating and overwhelming structure located in Istanbul, Turkey. The cathedral has been declared by UNESCO a world heritage center due to the historic and cultural significance the structure has on the city of Istanbul and Turkey in general. The building was the largest building of its time and it was considered the epitome of Byzantine Architecture. This magnificent place of worship has always been very famous since ancient times for its massive dome and even today, its beauty and unique structural design still draw tourists from places all over the world thus it is one of Turkey's most important tourist attractions. 


History of Hagia Sophia Cathedral


The Hagia Sophia cathedral was constructed by emperor Justinian I in AD 537, the building was designed by two Greek architects who are Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles. The building was then dedicated to the Wisdom of God, the logos, and the third person of the holy trinity. The cathedral was the third church of the holy wisdom to occupy the site on which it now stands as the previous churches were destroyed by rioters during the Nika riots. From the date of the completion of the building until 1453 the building served as an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral and also as the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinopolitan. But between 1204 to 1261, it was converted by the fought crusaders to a roman catholic cathedral. The building was later converted to a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. By 1935 it was reopened as a museum and has since served as a museum. It was the largest Cathedral for thousands of years until the Seville Cathedral was constructed in 1520.


The Hagia Sophia Cathedral


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The architecture of the Hagia Sophia Cathedral


Right from the moment the magnificent structure of the Hagia Sophia was completed, the building became popular all over the world because its structure and designs were unparalleled. From that time till the present time, people from all over the world traveled great distances to see and experience the wonderful beauty of this gigantic structure themselves. Some important pieces of information about the architecture of these buildings that have been cardinal to the popularity since the ancient days until this very day are given below. 



Anyone who has visited the Hagia Sophia will agree that the structure of the building is unique and distinct from all of the other old buildings constructed in this region. The cathedral was designed to have a sharp rectangular shape and a large square nave that measures up to 102ft. This large central Nave is covered with a gigantic dome that is held by four pendentives, spherical triangles that arise from four huge piers that carry the weight of the dome. The pendentives made it possible for the dome to be placed over the rectangular compartment. Beneath the dome has 40 windows that allow for natural lighting to illuminate the church. Excluding the two narthexes and the large atrium, the basilica measures 229 × 245ft, while the atrium measures 157 × 106ft. the total length of the cathedral measures up to 442ft. After the building was converted to a mosque around 1453, a little adjustment was made to the structure of this building and its adjustment includes Minarets that were erected outside the building, 

The narthex outside at the eastern part of the atrium is enclosed, and the inner narthex is accessible through 5 doors. From this inner narthex, there are about 9 doors that lead to the nave. The access to the upper galleries follows the traditional features of Constantinopolitan church planning by providing ramps to access the upper galleries. 


The Hagia Sophia Cathedral


Designs Decorations and Highlights of the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia.

Initially, the decorations with the buildings were simple and were not too extravagant; there were just simple traditional decorations in the form of mosaics & Christian religious images forming the initial decorative theme of the building. But later, as the cathedral began to become more popular and significant to the region, more images and designs were added to suit the status of the building. Designs and decorations such as ornate mosaics, fascinating imperial portraits, images of the royal family, and images of Christ and different emperors have been added to add to the beauty of the church. 

After Hagia Sophia was converted to a mosque, many of these decorations were covered in paint as Islam did not believe in representational imagery, even though the mosaics were covered with paint, the building was restored in the 20th century and most of these decorations were covered restored. Marble doors, expensive ceramics, and mosaics were designed by the most skilled artists to beautify the buildings, most of which can still be found in the building today. 

The Hagia Sophia Cathedral


Why is the Hagia Sophia Famous?


The massive dome of the Hagia Sophia Cathedral is the major reason this building is very famous. Until 1520 when the church of Seville was built, the cathedral held the title of being the world’s largest building in the world. Also, the Cathedral possesses a lot of beautiful designs that people from all over the world come to see. 


The Hagia Sophia Cathedral


Is the Blue Mosque the Same as the Hagia Sophia Cathedral?

The blue mosque is not the same as the Hagia Sophia Cathedral. Although both are located in Istanbul, the Blue Mosque was built between 1609 -1616, while the Hagia Sophia (otherwise known as the Aya Sophia) cathedral has been in existence since AD 537. Also, the Blue Mosque still serves as a mosque, while the Hagia Sophia structure is now a museum.


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The Hagia Sophia Cathedral


Best time to Visit Hagia Sophia Cathedral


To have a wonderful and unforgettable traveling experience to this museum, you are better off visiting it in the summer seasons around mid-April through October. During this time, the museum is always open from 9 am to 7 pm, and it Is always busy at these times, so you have a chance to meet a lot of people and also make new friends.


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