The Hagia Sophia

Istanbul, Turkey

Location

The Hagia Sophia is located in Aya Sofya Square, Istambul, Turkey. It’s geographic coordinates are 41.008545° N, 29.979938° E.
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Description

Though it is known to the Christians as a Church and to the Muslims as a mosque, no one can deny the beauty and grace of the Hagia Sophia. This giant cathedral, has a main section that is 230 feet wide, and 240 feet long. It’s central dome is an astounding 102 feet in circumference. It also goes by many names, known to some as the Church of the Holy Wisdom, other as the Ayasofya, and to even more as the Hagia Sophia. Today, the Hagia Sophia greets the world as a museum and religious destination for two important world religions.

History

The Hagia Sophia has a very interesting history. The chapel was originally built by Constantine the Great in 360 B.C.E., burned down in a riot, rebuilt in 415 B.C.E., burned down again in 532 B.C.E., and rebuilt for the last time in 537 B.C.E.. It remained a church for around 900 years, setting the scene for the violent separation between the Roman Catholic and the Greek Orthodox churches in 1204 B.C.E.. It was converted into a mosque by the Ottoman Empire in 1453 B.C.E.. In 1943, the Turkish government decided that it was time for the Hagia Sophia to go into retirement as a museum after noticing that the historic building was starting to fall apart in dangerous ways. It has been under heavy repair work ever since.


Sacredness

For both Muslims and Christians, the Hagia Sophia is an important part of their history. For the Christians, one of the things that it signifies is the time when the romans finally started to accept them. The chapel was in fact built by the first Christian leader of Rome, Constantine the Great. It was also where the Roman Catholic Crusaders violently turned it into their own church, further opening up the rift between the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches. For the Muslims, it was a prized mosque of theirs for 540 yards. Originally converted into a mosque by the Sultan Mehmet in 1453, it had been well cared for by the Muslim community until 1994, when it was made into a museum