This amazing UNESCO World Heritage site will leave you with awe and respect as you stand dwarfed and full of wonderment inside Hagia Sophia, the largest building in the world for over 1,000 years.
It only took five short years and two brilliant geometry professors/architects to design and build what is now universally considered, “one of the most beautiful buildings in the world”. It will amaze you at the sheer size of this Byzantine “masterpiece”.
FYI: Make sure you walk up to the upper gallery where you can get a birds eye view of the whole cathedral. There are professional photographs available as the immensity of the cathedral will hinder your photographic experience.
History: First it was a basilica, later a mosque and presently a museum. Hagia Sophia was rebuilt in its present form between 532 and 537 under the personal supervision of Emperor Justinian I. The construction was of exquisite marbles brought from all corners of the empire. Take note of the columns which were brought from temples at Baalbek, Ephesus, Delphi and Heliopolis. After 5 years of construction with 1,000 master craftsmen and up to 10,000 laborers , the church was opened in 537 AD with great ceremony.
For over 900 years, the Hagia Sophia was the seat of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople. For almost 500 years Hagia Sophia served as the principal mosque of Istanbul. You will notice that the old saying of “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” holds true as the Blue Mosque and the Suleyman Mosques are modeled after the amazing Hagia Sophia. Closed on Mondays. Note: Groups of 15 or more people must rent headsets which are 5 Turkish Lira each.