The ”church of the Holy Wisdom,” Haghia Sophia is among the world’s biggest architectural achievements. Greater than 1,400 years old, it stands as a testimony to the sophistication of sixth-century Constantinople, and had an enormous affect on architecture within the centuries that followed. The huge edifice was constructed over two earlier churches and inaugurated by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I in 537. Within the fifteenth century, the Ottomans transformed it into a mosque: the minarets, tombs, and fountains date from this era. To help support the construction’s great weight, the outside has been buttressed on quite a few occasions, which has partly obscured its authentic form.
THE GROUND FLOOR
The inside of Haghia Sophia succeeds in imparting a really celestial feel. Highlights include the nice Byzantine mosaics, mostly dating from the ninth century or later. Essentially the most conspicuous attributes at floor level are these added by the Ottoman sultans after the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, when the church was transformed right into a mosque. These comprise the mihrab, a distinct segment indicating the direction of Mecca, the minbar, a platform used by the imam to deliver sermons; the Sultan’s loge, a secure place in which the sultan might pray; and the Kursu, a throne used by the imam while reading from the Koran.
The apse is dominated by a big and striking mosaic showing the Virgin with the infant Jesus on her lap. Two other mosaics, urweiled in 867, depict the archangels Gabriel and Michael, though only fragments of the latter remain. Portraits of the saints Ignatius the Younger, John Chrysostom, and Ignatius Theophorus adorn niches within the north tympanum. In a concave area at the base of the dome is a mosaic of the sixwinged seraphim. The dome is adorned with Koranic inscriptions (calligraphic roundels). It was once coated in gold mosaic tiles.
When Emperor Constantine I (r. 306-337) selected Byzantium for his capital and renamed it Constantinople, he amassed artists, architects, and craftsmen to construct his new imperial metropolis. They got here mainly from Rome, bringing with them an Early Christian style. Eastern influences have been added to this and a distinct Byzantine style evolved. Church buildings, once primarily based on a longitudinal design, became centralize – as at Haghia Sophia – with an eastern apse and three aisles.