Hagia Sophia (Saint Sophia)
Hagia Sophia, meaning Holy Wisdom in Greek, was built during the reign of East Roman ( Byzantine) Emperor Justinian between 532-537AD as a Greek Ortodox Church. This is the third church that was built in the same place with the same name, the first two were burnt by the people during their protests.
Anthemius of Tralles, mathematician and physicist, and his assistant Isidorus of Miletus were in charge for building this magnificient temple. 8000 unskilled and 2000 skilled workers worked to complete this work in only five years!
This is such an important building in terms of her architecture, that it is studied in ‘architectural history’ classes around the world today.
From 537 to 1453 for nearly 1000 years, it was the cathedral of Constantinople, with the Ottoman conquest the church was converted into a mosque though the name remained the same. It became Hagia Sophia Mosque ( ‘Ayasofya Camii’ in Turkish). Atatürk, the founder of Turkish Republic and the first president, decided that Hagia Sophia should be converted into a museum. From 1935 to 2020, Hagia Sophia was a museum and she received 3.727.361 visitors in the year 2019. Since July 2020, Hagia Sophia has been converted back to a mosque. It is still open to visitors except praying times.
Both Christian and Islamic traces can be seen in Hagia Sophia, which was once the biggest Christian temple of the world and one of the most important mosques for Islam religion.
This is the most important monument in the city, the utmost ‘must-see’ sight. If you have only two hours in Istanbul, this is the place you must see!
You can take ‘I only have a day in Istanbul‘, ‘Layover in Istanbul‘, ‘Shore Excursion‘, ‘I have a weekend in Istanbul‘, ‘I have three days in Istanbul‘, ‘I have four days in Istanbul‘, ‘Traces of Constantinople‘ tours to see Hagia Sophia with a private guide and learn about her impressive history.