Istanbul’s Ancient Mystery: Hagia Sophia (Its History, Architecture, and Facts)

Hagia Sophia signifies “Divine Wisdom” in Greek, this was an Orthodox church devoted to holly shrewdness, not to a Saint Sophia as certain individuals wrongly call it today. Turkish individuals call it Aya Sofya, it’s a previous Byzantine church and previous Ottoman mosque, presently situated in Sultanahmet neighborhood is one of the most significant exhibition halls of Istanbul considered as a World Heritage by UNESCO. It is one of the best enduring instances of Byzantine design.

The primary church of Hagia Sophia was based on a similar site in the fourth century by Constantine the Great and revamped by his child Constantinus II in 360 AD. It was a little wooden church in Constantinople. Tragically nothing stayed from it since it was crushed during a fire in 404 AD. After the pulverization, a second and bigger Hagia Sophia was worked at a similar area in 415 AD by the sovereign Theodosius II. This subsequent church was likewise torched during the Nika uproars of 532 AD.

A portion of its segments, capitals, and the stairs can be seen today in the yard of the historical center. At long last, the third Hagia Sophia, the one that you can visit today, was worked by ruler Justinian I between 532-537 AD over the remaining parts of the past basilica. The sovereign spent practically the entirety of his fortune, 10.000 individuals worked in its development under the supervision of two designers; Anthemius of Tralles (present-day Aydin city) and Isidorus of Miletos.

After culmination, Justinian entered the congregation and he yelled “Solomon, I have beaten thee!”, alluding to King Solomon. The congregation turned into the wonderful image of the Byzantine Empire and the biggest church of Christendom on the planet. For very nearly 1000 years the Hagia Sophia was the seat of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople. Church boards and magnificent functions were held here.

The massive focal vault over a rectangular arrangement was constructed utilizing extraordinary blocks; 12 of them weighted as one standard. Be that as it may, it was still too substantial in this manner this early vault fallen during a few seismic tremors so a littler one was constructed. In the days when there was no steel utilized in development, huge arches must be bolstered by huge columns and dividers, consequently, the vault of Hagia Sophia was upheld by four immense wharves to remove its weight as an afterthought dividers and disperse it to the ground.

Forty little windows around the arch and different windows of the congregation let enough light into the inside. The inside dividers of the congregation were brightened with gold mosaics, the floors with white marble, and segment capitals with the monograms of Justinian and Theodora. Marbles and sections taken from the remaining parts of prior civic establishments from all pieces of the Empire were utilized as a building material, these pieces originated from Baalbek, from Pergamon, and the Temple of Artemis also.

The upper displays were utilized by notable individuals or for chapel chambers during the Byzantine time frame, and the lower part was utilized by average folks. At the point when the Hagia Sophia was a mosque, the exhibitions were held for the ladies during supplications, and the lower floor was utilized by the men.

In 1204 the congregation was sacked by the Fourth Crusade, numerous valuable relics were expelled from the congregation and removed. This demonstration authoritatively isolated the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic houses of worship. A portion of these relics can be seen today in the treasury of St. Imprint’s Basilica in Venice, Italy. Enrico Dandolo, the Doge of Venice who instructed Latin powers during the attack of the city, is covered inside the congregation on the upper display.

On May 29th, 1453, the Ottomans vanquished Constantinople and sultan Mehmet II requested to change over the congregation into a mosque. Since he appreciated the craftsmanship, the sultan didn’t need these extraordinary mosaics to be obliterated so he put them over and the Ottomans made their botanical structures or geometrical examples, just as Koranic calligraphy over the mortar.

To utilize it as a mosque, Mihrab and Minbar were included inside, a wellspring for the bathing was set in the patio, and minarets were worked in various periods in the external corners of the structure. A Koranic school, soup kitchen, library, madrasa, the clock-winding house, and sultan’s tombs (having a place with Selim II, Murat III, Mehmet III, Mustafa I and Ibrahim) are among the structures included by the Ottomans. Additionally, enormous braces were worked by the Turkish modeler Sinan in the sixteenth century to help the dividers holding up the arch and to spare the structure from the tremors.

The sultan’s loge was included in the nineteenth century during the reclamation of the mosque by the Swiss starting point Fossati siblings. Aya Sofya stayed a mosque for just about 500 years until 1935 when Atatürk changed over it into an exhibition hall so everyone could come to visit this engineering showstopper and respect both Christian and Muslim craftsmanship. Petition mats were expelled from the marble floor and specialists originated from all around the globe to evacuate a portion of the mortar to reveal astounding Byzantine mosaics.

It was, and still is, a significant undertaking during the reclamations uncovering all the significant Byzantine mosaics yet, besides saving the Islamic craftsmanship and calligraphy to keep up a harmony between both Christian and Islamic societies. The Hagia Sophia has an old-style basilica plan estimating 74.67 x 69.80 meters (245 x 229 feet). The vault isn’t consummately adjusted having a distance across of 31.87 – 30.87 meters (104.5 – 101.3 feet), it’s 55.60 meters (182.4 feet) high from the floor.

Interior Visits

The passage to the historical center from the yard is the first west door, beside it you can see the remaining parts of the prior (the second) basilica. There are three entryways offering access to the principal hallway (external narthex), then five doors to the inward narthex, and then nine additional doors to the focal nave. The center entryways are greater than the side entryways because these were utilized by the majestic relatives.

As you initially enter the nave, there are two round urns made of alabaster on the privilege and the left. These were included during the Ottoman time frame around the sixteenth century, and the marble was gotten from Pergamum. On the floor of the nave, sadly secured with the framework today, there is a square territory cleared with shaded marble pieces. It was named as “Omphalion” where Byzantine heads used to be delegated. It was believed this was the focal point of the world, which was “level” in those days.

Inside of Hagia Sophia – snap to enlargeToday, a gigantic platform is set in the focal point of the nave for rebuilding efforts of the principle vault which is embraced for numerous years. Four holy messenger wings design the four pendentives which bolster the arch. The light fixtures for candles or oil lights are from the Ottoman time frame.

There are eight wooden and cowhide huge emblems (7.5 m – 24.6 ft width) with Arabic engravings on them, these are names having a place with, beginning from the privilege of the apse heading off to one side: Allah and Muhammad (over the apse); the initial four Caliphs Abu Bakr, Omar, Osman, and Ali (at the four corners of the arch); and the two grandkids of the Prophet, Hasan, and Husayn (in the nave).

A considerable lot of the gold mosaics were vandalized during the Latin principle between 1204-1261, and some were demolished during the tremors. Yet, today, some decent mosaics are in the upper exhibition and some on the ground level, over the principle entryways. These gold mosaics are for the most part from the tenth and eleventh hundreds of years. For instance, simply over the passage door at the narthex is a mosaic with Jesus Christ and sovereign Leon VI arguing for divine leniency, with emblems of Virgin Mary and Archangel Gabriel.

Another mosaic delineating the Virgin Mary and Jesus Child can be seen over the apse, which on the privilege has a somewhat harmed Archangel Gabriel’s mosaic. In the upper exhibition toward the south, a significant mosaic delineates the “Deesis” scene, known as Universal Justice, with Christ Pantocrator flanked by the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. As far as possible of a similar display there are two additional mosaics; On the correct, you can see Virgin Mary and Jesus Child with Emperor John Comnenus II and Empress Irene together with their child Alexis.

On the left, there is Jesus Christ with Empress Zoe and her third spouse Emperor Constantine IX Monomachus. Another fine mosaic can be seen over the leave entryway, with Virgin Mary and Jesus Child in the middle, Constantine the Great on the privilege exhibiting a model of the city of Constantinople, which he established, and Emperor Justinian I on the left showing a model of Hagia Sophia church, which he assembled.

The apse has a Mihrab and Minbar included during the Ottoman time frame, however initially during the Byzantine time frame the special stepped area, the podium, and the stately items were altogether plated with silver and gold and brightened with ivory and gems, which were evacuated by the Crusaders in the thirteenth century. There are an aggregate of 107 segments on the ground floor and the displays.

The marble section capitals have fine profound carvings with the magnificent monograms of Justinian and Theodora. In the northern corner of the congregation is an exceptional section called “perspiring segment” or “crying segment”, made of white marble brought from the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. A bronze belt encompasses the lower some portion of this section and there is an opening large enough to embed a finger.

There are numerous legends and tales about the section; as a result of certain drops of water turning out from the gap individuals believed that this segment was “crying” or “perspiring”, so this was a wonder. A slope on the northern corner offers access to the upper displays from which you can have a heavenly perspective on the focal nave and see the first mosaics in the southern wing.

The bronze entryways at the exit toward the south are somewhat installed in the floor and go back to the second century BC, they were brought from an agnostic sanctuary in Tarsus. The historical center is open between 09:00 – 16:30 (aside from on Mondays starting at 2017), with longer opening times throughout the late spring months.

  • Sultanahmet – Istanbul
  • Tel: (+90 212) 522 17 50 and 528 45 00
  • Affirmation: 72 TL


Regularly alluded to as the eighth miracle of the World, the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya in Turkish) in Sultanahmet is effectively one of Istanbul’s most amazing sights. It additionally should have one of the most fierce chronicles of any historical center on the planet. To discover why it’s ideal to think back through its past manifestations:

The Hagia Sophia Church (AD360 – )

The structure that stands today was the third church to be based on this site. The initial two (worked in AD 360 and Ad 415 separately) were both leveled to the ground in pained Byzantine occasions. Sovereign Justinian charged the present structure in the 6th century as a Greek Orthodox Church that would exceed the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. It took only five years and the labor of almost 11,000 individuals to raise the structure that was the biggest Christian church on the planet for about a thousand years.

In 1204, the Crusaders dislodged the Patriarch of Constantinople with a Latin religious administrator, which is the reason a lot of its unique relics would now be able to be found in St. Imprint’s Basilica in Venice. You can visit Hagia Sophia, either with our private One Day in Istanbul or Istanbul Layover visit.

The Hagia Sophia Mosque (1453 – )

Following the catch of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, and the resulting plundering that resulted, Mehmet the Conqueror proclaimed the Hagia Sophia a mosque, and said his supplications there the exceptionally next Friday. As a mosque, it was considered one of the holiest Islamic sanctuaries of the world. It likewise filled in as Istanbul’s key mosque for almost 500 years and was utilized as a model for some, others including the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, the Suleymaniye Mosque, and the Rustem Pasha Mosque.

The Hagia Sophia Museum (1935 – )

Under the request for Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the Council of Ministers, the Hagia Sophia Turkey opened as a historical center in 1935. Today, it is visited by about 10,000 individuals every day and the Turkish Ministry of Tourism proclaimed that it got more than 3 million guests in 2013. The Hagia Sophia ticket cost is $10, however, be cautioned except if you purchase your ticket ahead of time or go with a visit direct, there are frequently long lines. Its opening times are Monday – Sunday from 9 am – 7 pm.

Facts About Hagia Sophia

The vault of the Hagia Sophia Turkey is 180 feet high and 100 feet wide and was viewed as a transformation throughout the entire existence of engineering. Today, the enormous vault is encompassed by four minarets which were worked during the Ottoman time frame. A large portion of the Christian mosaics of the sanctuary is situated in the upper display of the sanctuary which was at one time the ladies segment during both the Byzantine and Ottoman times. The most seasoned mosaic goes back to the ninth century AD.

The designer Sinan was so vexed by the great measurements and engineering of the Hagia Sophia, that he went through his time on earth attempting to better it. He at long last accomplished this with his gem, the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne whose arch is said to be simply inches greater.

What Not to Miss at the Hagia Sophia?

The shocking mosaics, for example, the sparkling thirteenth-century Deësis mosaic of Christ with John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary. The gathering of both Islamic and Christian religions in the images showed, for example, the focal mihrab (demonstrating the course of Mecca), disregarded by an apse mosaic portraying the Virgin and Child.

Wishing Column at Hagia Sophia

The bronze secured a ‘wishing section’ in the northwest of the structure which is accepted to have mending powers (after Justinian inclined his head against it and his cerebral pain vanished). Spot your thumb in the gap, and contort your wrist around as you make your desire.

Hagia Sophia Cat

The Hagia Sophia feline that has become something of a viral sensation. Pay special mind to this catlike mascot with dark-striped cat markings watching the enormous inside.

Hagia Sophia Architecture

Justinian’s Hagia Sophia is the one that stands today. It is a structural knowledge and the main perfect work of art in Byzantine design. It has been the biggest house of God for a long time until the Seville Cathedral was constructed. The congregation has a rectangular shape, and the square tremendous square nave estimating 31m (102ft) is secured with a focal arch that is carried on four pendentives. The arcade around the vault is solid with 40 angled windows to bring the light inside.

Barring the two narthexes and the huge chamber, the basilica estimates 70 x 75 m (229 x 245 ft). The chamber estimates 48 x 32 m (157 x 106 ft) and the absolute length of the development estimates 135 m (442 ft). The narthex outside at the eastern piece of the chamber is encased, and the internal narthex is entered by 5 entryways, and from this inward narthex, there are 9 ways to the nave. The gets to upper exhibitions are given by inclines, which are a customary component of Constantinopolitan church arranging.

Hagia Sophia Mosaics

Hagia Sophia was flawlessly brightened with mosaics inside the hundreds of years during the Byzantine period. These mosaics portrayed the Virgin Mary, Jesus, holy people and heads or rulers. The historical backdrop of the most punctual mosaics is obscure the same number of them were wrecked or secured during Iconoclasm. The known ones beginning from the restoration of conventionality and arrive at its tallness during the rules of Basil I and Constantine VII.

During the fourth campaign in 1204, Latin Crusaders sacked numerous Byzantine structures including Hagia Sophia. Numerous lovely mosaics were evacuated and dispatched to Venice. After the Ottoman control of Constantinople in 1453, with the change of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, the mosaics were secured whitewashed or put. With Fosatti siblings’ reclamation in 1847, the mosaics got revealed and were duplicated for the record.

In any case, despite everything they stayed secured until 1931 when a reclamation and recuperation program started under the authority of Thomas Whittemore. In 1934, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk requested that Hagia Sophia would turn into an exhibition hall, the recuperation and rebuilding extended at that point. In any case, a considerable lot of the extraordinary mosaics that Fosatti siblings recorded had vanished presumably with the tremor in 1894.

Mahmut I’s Library

Mahmut I who ruled between 1730-1754, gave solid enthusiasm for Hagia Sophia. He requested fixes, and he included a library, a wellspring, an imaret ( a kitchen to serve nourishment for poor) and a school for kids to Hagia Sophia.

The library is situated on the principal floor of Hagia Sophia on the southern path. It is a rectangular room, half of the dividers adorned with marble and half top with Iznik tiles. On the east divider hangs the “tugra” (calligraphic mark) of Mahmut I. The library’s front side has six sections, and in the middle of there are bronze barbecues that shut the inside.

Tombs of Hagia Sophia

Five tombs have a place with Ottoman Sultans and their relatives in the chronicled structures contiguous the Hagia Sophia Museum. All rebuilding efforts are done and the structures could be at last fit to be seen. Regularly rebuilding efforts of verifiable structures never end, yet specific work ought to be done in time. As per Fatih Sultan Mehmet’s confirmation, Hagia Sophia must be taken acceptable consideration of and lately, his will was satisfied.

Crude toilets in Hagia Sophia and the platform which has been remaining inside for a long time were expelled; the substance of the Angel Seraphim mosaic was revealed; baptistery and the most seasoned sanctification pool were opened to visit, rebuilding efforts of Sultans’ tombs situated in Hagia Sophia’s patio were finished. Every one of these works made everyone even the Sultan’s spirit fulfilled.

The discoveries which were found during the rebuilding efforts explained the sepulchral culture of the Ottomans. All wraps and garments which were found in tombs are in presentation and tombs have been secured with similar shading overlays. Even though tombs are named after Sultans, tombs were likewise protected for the individuals from their families and their tradition. It is likewise realized that after Sultan Selim II even the spouses were additionally covered in a similar tomb with Sultans.

Tomb of Sultan Mehmet III

The tomb of Mehmet III was worked by Architect Dalgic Ahmet Agha and all costs paid by Ahmet I. The veneer of the structure covered with marble and tomb has two arches and octagonal floor plan. Passage improvements, for example, blossoms, scene pictures, stars show a style past the typical adornments of that period. The windows are spread out in three lines and seventeenth-century white and blue tile embellishments extend evenly over the most reduced column of windows.

Hand-drawn adornments design the rest of the parts. New segments for the girls of the sultans have additionally included either side of the passageway entryway later on. There are likewise engravings about history as an afterthought confronting the Bab-I Humayun Street. The tomb building covers 26 stone coffins including Sultan Ahmet I’s mom Handan Sultan, children and little girls of Sultan Ahmet I, a girl of Murat III and other sultans’ children.

Tomb of Sultan Mustafa I

The structure which is known as the tomb of Sultan Mustafa I and Sultan Ibrahim I was the previous baptistery of the basilica and was one of the significant extension structures of the Hagia Sophia complex. It is secured with a rimless arch and has an octagonal inside format. Before changed over into a tomb, the structure had been utilized as an extra space for light oil for some time in the Ottoman period.

Mustafa I who kicked the bucket in 1639, Ibrahim I who passed on in 1648 are covered here. Counting Mustafa I and Ibrahim I, there is an aggregate of 19 stone caskets in the tomb. Little girls of Ahmet I and a little girl of Kaya Sultan of Murat IV, children and little girls of Ahmet II and some different individuals from the tradition are covered in structure.

Tomb of Sultan Selim II

This structure is one of the 18 tombs worked by Architect Sinan. It has the most lovely instances of stonework, woodwork, tiles and calligraphic expressions. Draftsman Sinan got a request from Sultan Selim II to fabricate a tomb for him. It is realized that the tomb could be finished 3 years after the death of Sultan Selim II. The veneer of the structure is covered with marble. Passageway entryway of the structure has trimmed mother of pearl which is known as Kundekari Style and beautified with geometrical tortoise shells which is a select case of the woodwork.

Each side of the entryway has the tiled boards with purple, blue, green and red blossom designs that show sixteenth-century tile workmanship. The left half of the entryway has copy tiles that have paler shading than right side ones since unique ones were sent to France for rebuilding in 1895 and they are still in the Louver Museum. There are an all-out 42 stone caskets in the tomb have a place with Sultan Selim II, his significant other Nurbanu Sultan, their children Osman, Mustafa, Suleyman, Cihangir, Abdullah, their girls Fatma, Istemihan, Hacer and Guherhan, and Sultan Murat III’s children and little girls.

Tomb of Sultan Selim II

This structure is one of the 18 tombs worked by Architect Sinan. It has the most excellent instances of stonework, woodwork, tiles and calligraphic expressions. Engineer Sinan got a request from Sultan Selim II to manufacture a tomb for him. It is realized that the tomb could be finished 3 years after the death of Sultan Selim II. The exterior of the structure is covered with marble. Passage entryway of the structure has trimmed mother of pearl which is known as Kundekari Style and adorned with geometrical tortoise shells which is an elite case of the woodwork.

Each side of the entryway has the tiled boards with purple, blue, green and red bloom designs that show sixteenth-century tile workmanship. The left half of the entryway has copy tiles that have paler shading than right side ones since unique ones were sent to France for rebuilding in 1895 and they are still in the Louver Museum. There are an all-out 42 stone caskets in the tomb have a place with Sultan Selim II, his better half Nurbanu Sultan, their children Osman, Mustafa, Suleyman, Cihangir, Abdullah, their little girls Fatma, Istemihan, Hacer, and Guherhan and Sultan Murat III’s children and little girls.

Tomb of Sultan Murat III

The tomb of Sultan Murat III was worked by Architect Davud Agha and his collaborator Dalgic Ahmet Agha four years after the passing of Sultan Murat III in 1595. It is situated in the middle of the Princes Tomb and Tomb of Sultan Selim II. The tomb of Sultan Murat III has hexagon design, two vaults, and an angled passageway. The exterior of the structure is covered with marble. This tomb is acknowledged as one of the biggest Ottoman Tombs. The tomb appears to be plain from outside yet it is excellent finished inside.

It has the most lovely instances of coral red Iznik earthenware production goes back to the sixteenth century. Hand drawn ornamentation are enhancing inside dividers. White shading cleaned earthenware tiles on naval force blue foundation make a belt of Celi Sulus style calligraphic embellishment inside. The tomb has 3 columns of windows and the lower push windows have wooden kundekari cabinets among themselves.

Passage entryway of the structure has Kundekari style and it is adorned with mother of pearl decorates. There are complete 54 stone coffins in the tomb that have a place with Sultan Murat II, his better half Safiye, his girls and rulers and squire ladies.

Tomb of Princess

The tomb of Princes has a plain outside view and found close by the tomb of Sultan Murat II. The structure has a major arch, block secured to floor and limestone secured dividers. It appears to be octagonal from outside however quadrilateral from inside. The passageway of the structure is very much brightened with interlocking wooden slats in geometrical shapes. Every single inside divider is embellished with plant themes, hand-drawn trimmings, strips and blossoms in crates. In the tomb of Princes 4 rulers and the little girl of Sultan Murat III are covered.

How Do You Get to the Hagia Sophia Istanbul?

The Hagia Sophia area is in the core of Sultanahmet, near other famous sights including the Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul Archeology Museum, and Blue Mosque. The separation between the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque is just two minutes walk. To arrive at both to Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, Tütake the cable car to Sultanahmet, and stroll through the recreation center.

Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I love Istanbul. I have been to 10 different countries. Istanbul is in the top 3 cities. I like to play soccer too :)

Recent Posts