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The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque

  • 16/09/2021

ONCE A CHURCH, LATER A MOSQUE.

Masterpiece Of The History Of Architecture:

The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque / Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i Şerifi, with its innovative architecture, rich history, religious significance, and extraordinary characteristics has been fighting against time for centuries, was the largest Eastern Roman Church in Istanbul. Constructed three times in the same location, it is the world’s oldest and fastest-completed cathedral. With its breathtaking domes that look like hanging in the air, monolithic marble columns, and unparalleled mosaics, is one of the wonders of the world’s architecture history. The sheer dazzling beauty of the mosque with its magnificent play on space, light, and color provokes worship in the believer! Hagia Sophia poses on the ground of the first hill of Istanbul, precisely at the tip of the historic peninsula, surrounded by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus, and the Golden Horn on three sides.

Today's Hagia Sophia (Turkish: Ayasofya, Latin: Sancta Sophia, Spanish: Santa Sofia, Russian:Собор Святой Софии, literally: Holy Wisdom or Divine Wisdom) is the third building constructed in the same place with a different architectural understanding than its predecessors. Hagia Sophia was considered the embodiment of Byzantine Architecture and also said changed the history of architecture. By the order of Emperor Justinian, it was built by Anthemius (mathematician) from Tralles (today's Aydin) and Isidoros (geometrician and engineer) from Miletos (today's Balat). The construction started in 532 and was completed in a period of five years and opened for worship in 537 with great ceremony. An earthquake swarm that hit Constantinople from May 7,558 to following the years 546 and 557 were destructive. The dome of the Hagia Sophia collapsed and thousands of houses couldn't resist the magnitude of quakes.

The Hagia Sophia and Byzantine city of Constantinople were sacked and looted in April 1204 by the Venetians and the Crusaders on the Fourth Crusade which was regarded as a shocking betrayal amongst Christians. The crusader nobleman Baldwin of Flanders was crowned as emperor in Hagia Sophia, but most Byzantines refused to recognize him, and the empire fragmented into four small independent states.

IT CONTINUED TO EXIST AS A MOSQUE DURING THE OTTOMAN PERIOD

When Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror conquered the Konstantiniyye (During the Ottoman period of the ruling, the following names used in Turkish for Istanbul: Konstantiniyye, Stanpolis, Dersaadet, Asitane), he converted it into his imperial mosque. Buttresses were added to the Hagia Sophia’s sides to prevent it from collapse during the reign of Murad III by the historical architect Sinan who would be inspired by the ancient edifice and fusing its style with Islamic art and aesthetics in a series of Grand Mosques. The Hagia Sophia, whose domes and walls collapsed many times during the Eastern Roman period, never collapsed again after the renovations of Sinan the Architect despite many great earthquakes in Istanbul.

From the time of Fatih Sultan Mehmet Khan, every sultan strived to beautify the Hagia Sophia even more, and the Hagia Sophia was transformed into an entire complex with structures such as mihrab, minbar, rostrum, minarets, sultan’s office, shadirvans (fountain providing water for ritual ablutions), madrasah, library, and soup kitchen. In addition, great importance was attached to the interior decorations of the Hagia Sophia Mosque during the Ottoman period. Hagia Sophia was adorned with the most elegant examples of Turkish arts such as calligraphy and tile art and the temple gained new aesthetic values. Thus, Istanbul's Hagia Sophia was not only converted into a mosque but also this common heritage of humanity was preserved and improved. It continued its existence with the addition of Ottoman architectural elements, however, after 4 years of closure to the public Hagia Sophia Mosque was declared as a museum with the Council of Ministers Decision dated 24.11.1934 and served as a “Memorial Museum” held by the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums Ministry. The Hagia Sophia has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985 as a section called the Historic Areas of Istanbul, which includes Istanbul’s other major historic buildings and monuments. Today it is a landmark of Istanbul and one of the most visited sights in Turkey.

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