Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
Ranked #3 in Turkey Tourism
Modified through the centuries several times yet magnificent and exuberant Hagia Sophia (in Greek – “Holy Wisdom“) in Istanbul, Turkey is one of the most popular architectural sites in Turkey and in the whole world as well.
Church of Hagia Sophia
The first Hagia Sophia church was built in 360 AD and it functioned as Orthodox patriarchal basilica. In the riots in 404 it was damaged and burnt down and nothing has remained from this building. Second church was constructed in 415 but it was again destroyed after 117 years of existence. The third church, which, fortunately stands there until this day, was built from 532 to 537. During the period of Byzantine Empire Hagia Sophia functioned as the chair of the Orthodox patriarchs of Constantinople.
After the conquest of Ottomans in 1453 it was turned into a mosque and several new elements such as minarets, sanctuary, library and fountain were added. Majority of the original byzantine mosaics were either destroyed or covered.
Hagia Sophia Dome
The main cause of admiration of Hagia Sophia is its remarkable dome, since completely new approaches were used in its construction process. The 40 windows of the dome, which is made from marble, stone and special bricks, create unusual lighting, which astonish every visitor. However, there are also additional significant architectural interior elements: mosaics, calligraphic panes, the altar, tiles, Muezzin’s and Sultan’s Loges, Wishing Columns, marble cubes, Viking Scripture and many other.
From the outside Hagia Sophia is as impressive as from the inside and it incorporates such remarkable exterior elements as buttresses, minarets, public fountains, Fatih Madrasah, Almshouse, Timing room, Sultan tombs and Elementary School.
In 1932 restoration work was started but it was not an easy task since the building used to be owned by two religions and the legacy overlapped each other.
Since 1935 impressive Hagia Sophia works as a museum. Hagia Sophia is open to visitors every day except on Mondays from 9AM to 5PM. The entrance ticket costs 25 TL (~$14)