Istanbul City Tour - Turkey
Hagia Sophia Museum
The Hagia Sophia is a former patriarchalbasilica, later a mosque, now a museum. 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. It was the patriarchal church of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the religious focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly 1000 years.
In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and SultanMehmed II ordered the building to be converted into a 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.
For almost 500 years the principal mosque of Istanbul, Hagia Sophia served as a model for many of the Ottoman mosques such as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque.