History Of Hagia Sophia It is the biggest church built by the East Roman Empire in Istanbul, has been constructed 3 times in the same location. When it was first built, it was called Big Church (Megale Ekklesia) but , after the fifth century, it was referred to as the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia). It was the place in which monarchs were crowned, and it was also the greatest operational cathedral in the town throughout the Byzantine period.
History Of Hagia Sophia
It is the biggest church built by the East Roman Empire in Istanbul, has been constructed 3 times in the same location. When it was first built, it was called Big Church (Megale Ekklesia) but , after the fifth century, it was referred to as the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia). It was the place in which monarchs were crowned, and it was also the greatest operational cathedral in the town throughout the Byzantine period.
The Hagia Sophia is one of the historical architectural wonders that still remains standing at the present time, has a significant place in the art world with its architecture, size, grandness, and functionality.
The first church was built by Emperor Konstantinos (337-361 years) in 360. It was covered with a wooden roof and extended vertically (basilica) yet was burned down after the public revolt that took place in 404 as an outcome of the disagreements between Emperor Arkadios’ (395-408) wife empress Eudoksia and Istanbul’s patriarch Ioannes Chrysostomos, who was deported. The patriarch’s mosaic portrait can still be seen at the tymphanon wall located in the north part of the church. Any remains haven’t been recovered from 1. church; but, the bricks found in the museum storage branded ‘Megale Ekklesia’ are thought to belong to the first construction.
The second church was rebuilt by Emperor Theodosius II (408-450 years) in 415. That basilical structure is known to contain 5 naves and a monumental entry; it is also coped by a wooden roof.
The second church was destroyed in January 13, 532, after the public revolt (Nika revolts) that took place during the 5. year of Emperor Justinianos’ reign (527-565), when the ‘greens’ who represented the tradesman, and the ‘blues’ who represented the aristocrats and merchants in the society, collaborated against the Empire.
Remains found 2 meters below ground level during the excavations led by Scheinder from the Istanbul German Archeology Institute, contain steps belonging to the Propylon (monumental door), column bases and parts with lamb embossings that represent the 12 apostles. Besides that, other architectural pieces that belong to the monumental entry can be viewed in the west garden.
The current construction that we see today was built by Anthemios (Tralles) and Isidoros (Milet), who were renowned architects of their time, by Emperor Justiniano’s (527-565) orders.
According to information from the historian, Prokopios shows that the construction that started on February 23, 532, was finished in a short period of 5 years and the church was opened to worship with a ceremonial on December 27, 537. Resources state that on the inaugural day of the Hagia Sophia, Emperor Justinianos entered the temple and told, “My God, thank you for giving me chance to build such a worshipping place,” and followed with these words “Süleyman, I defeat you,” intending to Süleyman’s temple in Jerusalem.
The third Hagia Sophia building combined the 3 conventional basilical plans with the central dome plan in design. The structure has three nefi, two narthexes, and one apsi, internal and external. The length from the apsis to the outer narthex is 100 meter, and the width is 69,5 meter. The height of the dome from the ground level is 55,60 meter and the radius is 31,87 meter in the North to South direction and 30,86 meter in the East to West direction.
Emperor Justinianos ordered all provinces under his domination to send the best architectural parts to be used in the building so that the Hagia Sophia could be greater and grander. The marbles and columns used in the structure have been taken from ancient cities in and around Anatolia and Syria, such as Baalbeek, Aspendus Ephesus and Tarsa.
The white marbles used in the construction came from the Marmara Island in the Marmara Sea, the pink marbles from Afyon, the green porphyry from Eğriboz Island, and the yellow from North Africa. The ornamental interior wall coatings were made by dividing one marble blocks into 2 and combining them in order to make symmetrical shapes.
The Hagia Sophia was transformed into a museum by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who founder of modern Turkey Republic on February 1, 1935. Now welcoming both local and foreign visitors.
You can visit The Hagia Sophia Museum with one of our city tours.
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