History of Hagia Sophia with Photos


Photos of Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia simply means Church of the Holy Wisdom. The building is certainly one of the most impressive buildings ever constructed in the world. Built by the most succesful emperor of Byzantine Empire, Justinian, in 530s. Hagia Sophia Museum is the most visited sight in Istanbul.

History of Hagia Sophia

This incredible temple was begun to be constructed in 532 and was completed in 537. It was commissioned by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian to two of the important architects of the century: Named Anthemius of Tralles and Isidore of Miletus.

These architects not only built the biggest structure of humanity until then but charmed the city folk as well. The enthusiasm and curiosity generated by Hagia Sophia went on for centuries and it served as the biggest religious building of Byzantine Empire for a millennium.

Panoramic View of Hagia Sophia


View of Hagia Sophia from Seven Hills Hotel

Nika Revolt And Collapse Of The Second Hagia Sophia

Due to the destruction of the previous church by a riot in the same place, Hagia Sophia was built. Named as Nika Revolt, this uprising took place during the reign of Justinian, the greatest Emperor of Byzantium. During this riots, the city was seriously damaged by over 40.000 rioters and Theodosius II’s Church, which was there before Hagia Sophia, was demolished.

The ancient columns and remnants on the garden date back from this era. Belisarius, who was ordered by Justinian to end the riot, suppressed the riot by killing over 30.000 people. Afterwards, Justinian initiated a rebuilding of the city and Hagia Sophia, the biggest temple ever seen, was built.

Hagia Sophia Courtyard – Hagia Sophia History
Hagia Sophia photography

The remnants Of Theodosian Hagia Sophia © Serhat Engul

Architectural Creations And Dome Of Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia was the greatest church in Christendom for a thousand years. Justinian’s church remained as the largest church of the world until St. Peter’s Basilica was constructed in Rome 1000 years later. It was a legendary building throughout the medieval age. Hagia Sophia’s huge dome (56 meters high) was a daring engineering feat in the 6th century and architects still admire Hagia Sophia’s brilliant architecture and innovations.

Hagia Sophia Architecture
Hagia Sophia Architecture

Hagia Sophia Plan

Hagia Sophia’s Minarets And Tombs Of Sultans
Hagia Sophia Exterior

Hagia Sophia from outside. © Serhat Engul

Hagia Sophia As A Mosque

Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque in 1453. It had been the most important mosque of Istanbul during the Ottoman era. It was used as a mosque almost for 500 years.

Hagia Sophia as a mosque

Painting that depicts Hagia Sophia as a mosque.

Hagia Sophia Becomes A Museum

The Hagia Sophia had served as Istanbul’s most important mosque until 1935 when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, recognizing its historical significance, and made it a museum.

Outer Narthex Of Hagia Sophia

This is where you enter the Hagia Sophia Museum. Many people however, skip this section to walk into the heart of Hagia Sophia for obvious reason: to see the dome. I strongly recommend you to spend some time in the outer narthex to absorb the 1500 years of history.

Hagia Sophia Outer Narthex

Hagia Sophia information

Hagia Sophia Outer Narthex © Serhat Engul

Inner Narthex And Imperial Gate

The inner narthex is a great place to prepare yourself to get into the striking Naos (Center) of Hagia Sophia. You may enjoy with golden mosaic ceiling and Byantine symbols. Marbles are eye-catching too. You may see the mosaic of Byzantine emperor (Leon VI) over the imperial gate.

Hagia Sophia’s Inner Narthex

Hagia Sophia interior photos

Hagia Sophia Inner Narthex and Imperial Gate © Serhat Engul

Leon VI and Jesus Christ over the Imperial Gate


9th Century Byzantine Mosaic

Hagia Sophia Omphalion Coronation Stage

You may see colourful round marbles on the ground. This is where the Byzantine emperors were crowned.

Hagia Sophia relics

Omphalion © Serhat Engul

Marble Jar Of Pergamum Ancient City

Hagia Sophia what to see inside

Ancient Marble Jar In Hagia Sophia Center © Serhat Engul

Six winged Seraphim Angels

Seraphim Angels are beautiful frescoes of Byzantine masters. A restoration work has been carried out  for the last couple of years. During these restorations, they have revealed the face of the Seraphim Angel. (6 winged angel)

Hagia Sophia Seraphim Angel – Hagia Sophia History
Hagia Sophia angels

Hagia Sophia History, Interior, Plan, Photos © Serhat Engul

Marbles Of Marmara Sea Used For Decoration

history of hagia sophia

Marble Decorations Of Hagia Sophia Church © Serhat Engul

Colums of The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus

Hagia Sophia History

Massive Columns Of Hagia Sophia © Serhat Engul

Library Of Sultan Mahmud I Of Ottoman Empire

Hagia Sophia Ottoman Empire

Library Of Sultan Mahmud I © Serhat Engul

Empress Lodge On The Upper Gallery

hagia sophia byzantine empire

Empress Lodge For the noble ladies of Byzantine Empire © Serhat Engul

Marble Door On The Upper Gallery

hagia sophia christian history

Marble Door On The Upper Gallery © Serhat Engul

Grave Of Enrico Dandolo On The Upper Gallery

hagia sophia as a church

Grave Stone Of Henricus Dondolo © Serhat Engul

Viking Script On The Upper Gallery

hagia sophia as a mosque

Viking Script by elite Varangian Guard of Byzantine Emperors. © Serhat Engul

Ancient Bronze Door

hagia sophia istanbul turkey

Emperor Theophilos Bronze Door © Serhat Engul

Ottoman Fountain from Mosque Period

Hagia Sophia legends

Ottoman decorative fountain added to Hagia Sophia Mosque. © Serhat Engul

Golden Mosaic Decoration Of Ground Floor

hagia sophia stories

Mosaic ceiling of Hagia Sophia’s ground floor.

Frescoes And Paintings On The Upper Galleries

Hagia Sophia images

Frescoes on the ceiling of Hagia Sophia’s upper floor. © Serhat Engul

13th Century Deesis Mosaic

Hagia Sophia byzantine art

Deesis Mosaic Of Hagia Sophia © Serhat Engul

Hagia Sophia Interior (from Empress Lodge)


View of Ground Floor from Upper Gallery

  • Photos taken by Serhat Engul – All Rights Reserved

More About Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia History, Interior, Exterior and Photos


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