Great Place Wednesday; Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its dedication in 360 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931, when it was secularized. It was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.

Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have “changed the history of architectureā€¯. It remained the world’s largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years thereafter, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site, the previous two having both been destroyed by rioters. It was designed by the Greek Scientists Isidore of Miletus, a physicist, and Anthemius of Tralles, a mathematician.

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Detail of ancient Christian mosaic inside the Haga Sophia.

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