Hagia Sophia

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Why the
Hagia Sophia
in Istanbul is special

Modern-day architects marvel at how their 6th century counterparts could design the immense Hagia Sophia and its "impossibly" high-and-wide domed ceiling.

The Hagia Sophia
was first a church
then a mosque
then a museum



532 to 537 AD

The structure was built by the Christian Emperor Justinian I as a Byzantine church. It served as a Byzantine church for the next 900 years.



Beginning in 1453

The Islamic-faithed Ottomans took over Constantinople (now Istanbul).

They wasted little time in converting the Hagia Sophia into a mosque. It served the Muslims for almost 500 years.

During this time, the Ottomans painted over the Christian mosaics - and erected the four defining minarets we see today.



1934 to present

Turkey changed the Hagia Sophia's status from mosque to museum and uncovered the priceless Byzantine mosaics.

Location in Turkey

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More Turkey tips and insights

In Istanbul

Basilica Cistern
Blue Mosque
Dolmabahce Palace
Grand Bazaar
Hagia Sophia
Topkapi Palace

In other Turkey areas

Ephesus Ruins
Mount Ararat
Nemrut Dagi
Pergamon Acropolis
Ruins of Troy

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