Hagia Sophia. Inside the great history
Greetings our dear readers. Today I will talk about the greatest historical monument. The Hagia Sophia church was a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque. It’s one of the greatest buildings in human history. The date of its construction is 537 AD, and until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, but between 1204 and 1261 it was converted by the Fourth Crusaders to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was later converted into an Ottoman mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931.
I spent about two or three hours inside the Hagia Sophia. There’s a lot to see. That massive wooden doors, marble doors, floors and walls, mosaics and much more, everything here takes you to the past. That wooden doors is the Imperial Gate, used for the entrances of the emperor and the patriarch, it is the largest door in the Hagia Sophia and has been dated to the 6th century. It is about 7 meters long and it was made with wood from Noah’s Ark
The church was richly decorated with mosaics throughout the centuries. They either depicted the Virgin Mother, Jesus, saints, or emperors and empresses. Other parts were decorated in a purely decorative style with geometric patterns, but at the time of iconoclasm in 726-843 they were destroyed, so the current situation does not fully reflect the picture of the former beauty of the interior decoration of the building. The temple of Hagia Sophia was damaged many times during fires and earthquakes, but each time it was rebuilt. But one thing is the natural element, the other is people. So after the defeat of the Crusaders in 1204, the interior decoration was not possible to restore. The end of the greatness of the temple was laid with the fall of Constantinople in 1453.
After the conquest, the christian temple was decided to be converted into the Aya-Sofia mosque. On June 1, 1453, the first prayer was performed here. Of course, during the rebuild many christian ornaments were destroyed. Also in later times the temple was surrounded by four minarets.
The most important difference in Hagia Sophia’s architectural design is that its size and measurements are much larger than other churches, and the central dome is much bigger and higher. The dome that is over the central space is 55.60 m. from ground level, 31.87 m. from North to South and 30.87 m. from East to West. When constructing Hagia Sophia, architects have used marble, stone and special bricks that were light yet durable, specially made of Rhodes soil.
The dome that appeared compressed and spread out when it was first constructed, has been damaged in August 553 and December 557 due to earthquakes and in May 7, 558 the Eastern part of the dome has completely fallen apart. The renovation of the dome has been carried out by İsidoros’ nephew, young İsidoros. İsidoros has solved the problem by installing support systems through external braces and assisted the structure by adding forty windows and increasing the lenght of the dome by seven meters to make it smaller and lighter.
Hagia Sophia has survived a big fire in 859 and an earthquake in 869. The dome has collapsed after an earthquake in 989 and has been repaired. Due to the earthquakes in 1344 and 1346 a part of the dome and parts of the arch have collapsed and have been repaired.
The renovation process that has started by Fatih Sultan Mehmed during the Ottoman period has been continued by the following Sultans as well. The most important repair conducted in Hagia Sophia was by Sultan Abdulmecid’s (1839–1861) orders in 1847-1849 by the Swiss Fossati brothers. This repair included the filling of large cracks on the dome as well as securing the dome’s rim by implementing steel circles. During the renovations, one of the most important calligraphist’s of his time, Kazasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi has written the 35th verse of the quran on the main dome.
Minbar is a pulpit in the mosque where the imam (leader of prayer) stands to deliver sermons on Fridays. Minbar is at right hand side of the altar in Hagia Sophia and build in the period of Sultan Murad III. It is one of the best marble workmanship of 16th century Ottoman era.
Hagia Sophia Fountain built by Sultan Mahmud I (1730 – 1754) in 1740 is a masterpiece of Ottoman Architecture and one of the largest and most beautiful fountains in Istanbul. It is covered by a dome and an eave mounted on eight columns with muqarnas headings and eight arches. On the dome, there are a bronze tulip scripture of “Allah” written by carving in stack on top and a mirror scripture of “Muhammed” below and an “eulogium” on the upper and inner part of marble arcade. The fountain has 16 slices and each slice have bronze taps in the middle. There are tulip-shape bronze banners containing the scripture of “We have created everything from water” on the upper part of the joining section of sliced bronze water mains over the taps.
That was my visit to the church of Hagia Sophia
Photographer: Dmitry Ryabchenko for “PhotoMag.blog”