With its fascinating architecture and history, Hagia Sophia is one of the most mesmerizing places you can visit in Istanbul. Being one of the oldest standing structures in Istanbul, it witnessed empires prosper and fall. Though old, the Hagia Sophia we see today is not the first or the second one. The first two buildings were burned down by fires of rebellion.
If we started from the beginning, building the first Hagia Sophia was Byzantine Emperor Constantius’ idea. He wanted a basilica for the Roman Greek Orthodox Church that would be important and unifying for its citizens. He also wanted to show off their wealth to their enemies with this beautiful structure. The architecture was one of the significant ways to show that you were the real deal in those days. The first Hagia Sophia was built in 360AD and worked how Constantius imagined it would until a rebellion fire during Emperor Arcadios’s rule burnt it down in 404AD.
The next emperor, Emperor Theodosios, decided to rebuilt Hagia Sophia, and the construction was completed in 415AD, unfortunately with the same kind of wooden roof, which made it very susceptible to fires. Fast forward a century; the Nika Revolts were causing violence and damage throughout Constantinople. Sadly, Hagia Sophia was one of the damaged structures. After peace was obtained, citizens tried to salvage Hagia Sophia. Only to see it was of no use. There needed to be a new Hagia Sophia.
Emperor Justinian ordered the construction of the new Hagia Sophia. This time the lessons had been learned. He hired two of the most successful Byzantine architects of the time, Isidoros and Arthemios, who managed to build the third Hagia Sophia in 537AD as one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture.
The third Hagia Sophia is famous today for its fascinating and ground-breaking architectural qualities that allowed a massive, sturdy dome to be structurally possible. This design also has a renowned effect called “flying dome.” The windows that are cleverly put under the dome give the illusion of flying when the sun hits them.
One of the best things one can do in Istanbul is to enjoy and explore Hagia Sophia since it is a public museum that attracts millions of visitors each year.
Hagia Sophia is in Istanbul, which was known as Constantinople at the time.
Hagia Sophia is celebrated for showcasing Byzantine architecture and its history.
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The Byzantine Emperor Constantius ordered Hagia Sophia to be built.
Emperor Justinian ordered the construction of Hagia Sophia, and it was completed in 537AD.
The construction was built in 5 years, ten months, and four days.
Hagia Sophia is an example of Byzantine Architecture.
There are forty windows at the bottom of the dome, and when the sunlight hits these windows, it gives the illusion of a floating dome.
The architects of Hagia Sophia placed curved triangles called pendentives between the arches under the big dome. This support system allowed them to put up the big dome without giving too much pressure on the structure.