“Holy Wisdom” is the literal meaning of “Hagia Sophia, which is pronounced as “ayasofyia” is an architectural wonder that has witnessed the revolutionary history of Turkey. Times have changed, but I believe Hagia Sophia will have tons of stories to tell. And let the place tell you the rest of the brief history.
Story of Hagia Sophia
In 360 A.D, Emperor Constantius authorized the construction of the Hagia Sophia. It was the first church of Constantinople (presently known as Istanbul).
Hagia Sophia featured a wooden roof then. Unfortunately, the structure was burned to the ground due to some political riots during the dictatorship of Emperor, Arkadios, from 395 to 408 A.D.
Renovation of Hagia Sophia was done 3 times. The third time the Hagia Sophia was demolished and rebuilt by renowned architects Isidoros (Milet) and Anthemios completed in 537 A.D. The present Hagia Sophia is the third construction, done in a different architectural elegance, even though it occupies the same location as the previous two. The first service was held on 27th December, 537.
The Transformation: The official religion the Byzantines were Greek orthodox. It became a venue for the coronation of new heirs which was held at the Omphalion (navel of the earth.)
It was when the Ottoman’s captured Constantinople (the present Istanbul), the Hagia Sophia was renovated into a mosque. This conversion led to the masking of the orthodox- themed structure with Islamic calligraphy. The mosaic on the main dome of Hagia Sophia was believed to have an image of Jesus Christ which was also covered by golden calligraphy.
There were an additional four minarets during this time for religious purposes and to fortify the structure that was affected by an earthquake during that period.
Hagia Sophia Today
The Hagia Sophia witnessed a lot of the central events of the Byzantine rule for much of its 900 years of existence. For now, though, the building remains open to tourists.
The role of Hagia Sophia in religion and politics always remains a belligerent one till date, even after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. I can put in a lot of arguments that happened over the latter issue. But I think we should focus on the architectural grandeur rather than be concerned about it unless you‘re a history or politics major.
So let’s get to Hagia Sophia and get lost in time…