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Hagia Sophia: A church, a mosque, and a museum

The Hagia Sophia at night as seen from the Blue Mosque
The Hagia Sophia at night as seen from the Blue Mosque
photo taken by Suzy Keller

The Hagia Sophia is one of many amazing historical sites in Istanbul, but it just might have the most colorful history. The Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th century as the Shrine of the Holy Wisdom of God; Hagia Sophia is loosely the phonetic spelling of Holy Wisdom in Greek. It was designed by a physicist and a mathematician and was the world’s largest cathedral for nearly 1000 years.

After the siege of Constantinople in 1453, the cathedral became a mosque for almost 500 years. In 1935 it was converted into a museum and today it is one of the most visited historical sites in the world. The carpets were removed to display the marble floor and the plaster was removed to display the original mosaics. It is a wonderful blend of Christian Byzantine art and architecture and Islamic Ottoman craftsmanship.

Istanbul is full of rich history and culture. It is one of the most fascinating cities on earth. A trip there would not be complete without a visit to the Hagia Sophia. The building, inside and out, is a beautiful work of art. It is breathtaking and full of hidden secrets.