The Hagia Sophia, whose name means “holy wisdom,” is a domed monument originally built as a cathedral in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) in the sixth century CE.
With the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, Hagia Sophia became a mosque and was renamed Aya Sofya Camii.
Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1935 by the first President of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Only Patheon in Rome has slightly bigger dome than the dome of Hagia Sophia in the world.
The Alter, the bells, sacrificial vessels and iconostasis were all removed when the church was converted into a mosque.
The vast interior is wholly free of suggestion of ponderous load, and its effect is that of a weightless golden shell that seems to possess a miraculous inherent stability.
A variety of ornate mosaics were added over the centuries by each emperor after Justinian I. They included imperial portraits, images of the imperial family, different emperors, saints, images of Christ and Virgin
Mary with Jesus as a child.
The powerful Doge Enrico Dandolo, the
chief magistrate of the Republic of Venice who was over 90 years old
and blind, led the Latin Christians on a siege of Constantinople. The city and the church were sacked and desecrated, many golden mosaics were taken back to Italy, and Dandolo was buried at Hagia Sophia after his
death in 1205 CE.