Once a mosque and now a museum, the Hagia Sophia was originally a Byzantine cathedral, built in 537. It is universally acknowledged as one of the great buildings of the world.

Facts & Stats on the Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia
Aya Sofya
Church of Holy Wisdom
St. Sophia
319255 Go Historic
356 World Heritage Site
Aya Sofya Square
Istanbul, Turkey

History of the Hagia Sophia

The original Hagia Sophia was built on this site in the fourth century by Constantine the Great. Constantine was the first Christian emperor and the founder of the city of Constantinople, "the New Rome." The Hagia Sophia was one of several great churches he built in important cities throughout his empire.

Following the destruction of Constantine's church, a second was built by his son Constantius and the Theodosius the Great. This church burned to the ground during the Nika riots of 532, though fragments of it have been excavated and can be seen outside the church.

Hagia Sophia attained her present form between 532 and 537 under the personal supervision of Emperor Justinian I. The result was both the culminating architectural achievement of Late Antiquity and the first masterpiece of Byzantine architecture...

view full text »

Resources for the Hagia Sophia

  1. Istanbul: Buildings: Hagia Sophia Grove Art Online.
  2. Met Special Topics: Hagia Sophia Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.
  3. The Byzantine Monuments: Hagia Sophia Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate.