Monday, October 19, 2009

Istanbul, not Constantinople,,Part 2, Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia or Sophia Dome was built by the Emperor Justinian between 532 and 537 AD. It was the largest church for about 1000 years until St Peter's in Rome was built and the cathedral in Seville in 1520. Justinian hired two people, one an architect and the other a mathematician to design and build it. The dome is suspended on massive columns and arches, and in later centuries flying buttresses were added. Mosaic illustrations are a prominent feature, dating from about 800 AD to about 1200. Some of them are still visible. It is an amazing building. It is separated from the Blue Mosque by what was a hippodrome that seated about 100,000 people during the Byzantine times. The photo below is taken from the Blue Mosque.

Sophia Dome was converted into a mosque in about 1452, when the Muslim Ottoman Turks came into power. About 1935 the Turkish government turned it into a museum.

The photo below is taken from the Blue Mosque.

Three of the flying buttresses are shown below.

Interior details are shown below.

Interior door shown below.

Partial interior of the dome shown below.

Below: Mosaic of Mary and Infant Jesus.

Below: Cherubim

Below: Minbar added when Sophia became a mosque.

Below: More details.

Below: Mosaic, Mary and child Jesus

Below: Niche

Below: Grillwork upper gallery window.

Below: Passage to upper gallery.

Below: Interior from upper gallery showing one of the massive main pillars and smaller columns.

Below: Details on top of column.

Below: Ceiling above upper gallery.

Below: Mosaics as seen from upper gallery.

Below: Mosaic of Mary and the Infant Jesus flanked by and Empress and Emperor.

Below: Mosaic of Mary and Jesus.

Below: Mary and Jesus flanked by another Emperor and Empress.

Below: Mosaic of Mary and Jesus flanked by two figures whose identity I don't remember.

Virtually all of these mosaics are best seen from the upper gallery. Some of them are very difficult if not impossible to see from the ground floor. The Sophia Dome is one of the most impressive buildings I have ever seen.


  1. Fascinating for its history, architecture, color, detail, etc. Hope I get to go someday.

  2. Wooow!!!
    I will go there again.