This former Eastern Orthodox Church, once the mother church of Constantinople (Roman Byzantine Empire) and then reformed to a Turkish Mosque.
It was the largest Cathedral in the world for a thousand of years, until Seville Cathedral took its place. It is seen to be the symbol of Byzantine Architecture (Byzantine’s are Eastern Romans who owned Constantinople in the Middle Ages), known for its large dome in the Cathedral that changed the history of architecture in that it had not been done before in Christian design.
In 1453 when Constantinople (Modern Istanbul) was conquered by the Ottomans (Now known as the Turkish) many bells, altars and other characteristics were removed and many mosaics were plastered over. More Islamic articles were placed instead such as Mihrab, Minbar and Minarets. It was then closed as a mosque and reopened 1935 as Museum.
In its History, the Aya Sofya had been reconstructed on at least 3 occasions including in the 550’s when an earthquake resulted in the dome and many of its other important features collapsing. It has endured the brunt of earthquakes and fire, ransacked and desecrated.
It is now a symbol of Muslim conquer of Istanbul, as in 1453 Sultan Mehmet took to conquering the city, driven by the desire to make it a Muslim city. Turks took to the city and when defences collapsed, attacked the Hagia Sophia church, making sure not a trace of life remained. At the end of the takeover, the Sultan entered the church and had the Ulama recite the Islamic creed on the premises.
Since that data several Padisah (Sultan’s) have went about restoring it and transforming it into a symbol of Islamic Architecture. Within the building you can see the battle between Christianity and Islam, with its Cathedral and Mosque-like features, many ornate Islamic symbols and yet still traces of Christian painting and mosaic on the ceiling of the building.
For pictures and information of my visit to the city of Istanbul and the Aya Sofya go to: ‘Istanbul, Istanbul, Istanbul‘