Hagia Sophia (Turkish: Ayasofya, Greek: Αγία Σοφία; “Holy Wisdom”, Latin: Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia) is a former patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture. It was the largest cathedral ever built in the world for nearly a thousand years, until the completion of the Seville Cathedral in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between A.D. 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian.

In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and Sultan Mehmed II ordered the building to be converted into the Ayasofya Mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed, and many of the mosaics were eventually plastered over. The Islamic features — such as the mihrab, the minbar, and the four minarets outside — were added over the course of its history under the Ottomans. It remained as a mosque until 1935, when it was converted into a museum by the Republic of Turkey.

Although it is sometimes referred to as Saint Sophia (Greek for wisdom), the Greek name in full is Ναός τῆς Ἁγίας τοῦ Θεοῦ Σοφίας, Church of the Holy Wisdom of God, and it was dedicated to the Holy Wisdom of God rather than a specific saint named Sophia.


Related shots can be found at: Turkey and
Eastern Meditteranean.

Featured in : History : 31 May 09
Featured in : Istanbul : 5 Mar 10

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  • Mayina
    Mayinaabout 6 years ago

    rich in beauty and texture Tom!!

  • Elaine  Manley
    Elaine Manleyabout 6 years ago

    the architecture in the the Middle East countries is beautiful wonderful shot

  • Sean Farragher
    Sean Farragherabout 6 years ago

    great catch and info

  • Dave Law
    Dave Lawabout 6 years ago

    Another wonderful capture Tom, a lot of interst and colour in this.

  • Barry Norton
    Barry Nortonabout 6 years ago

    Wonderful capture

  • skyhorse
    skyhorseabout 6 years ago

    Oh I like the placement & the modern foreground is a great contrast – beautiful building & a good history lesson too (thanks, cos I always like those bits!)

  • cherylc1
    cherylc1about 6 years ago


  • osefo
    osefoabout 6 years ago

    My beautifull country.Beautifull.

  • linda lowry
    linda lowryabout 6 years ago

    NIce to see a picture of this not in a textbook for a change. It looks more approachable thatnks to this work. I lke the contrast of the ancient versus morden clothing and vehicles. Great work.

  • Edward J. Laquale
    Edward J. Laqualeabout 5 years ago

    Well done! Have we been chasing each other around the world?…….Ed

  • Thank you so much Ed, it looks a bit like it …

    – Tom Gomez

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