Hagia Sophia

This is the only building that has an imperial title for both the Byzantine and the Ottoman empires. It is the first example of this mixed architectural plan, and considering its monumental size, it represents one of the most important edifices—not only in Turkey but also in the world. The size and the architecture of the building are very distinct.

Constructing this size of building in just 5 years seems unreal. But real it is, even though it matches and exceeds the size of numerous cathedrals that were built 1000 years later! In fact, the Hagia Sophia is still the fourth biggest cathedral in the world. It was also the first rectangular building with a dome.

The Hagia Sophia has many important stories behind its facade. From being a ‘guardian angel’ to the Islamic figure of Hizir, this huge old church, and later mosque, has witnessed two great empires rise and fall.

The Hagia Sophia served as the Imperial cathedral during Byzantine times. On the day that Constantinople fell, it began to serve the Ottoman Empire as its first Imperial mosque. In 1935, Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, converted the site into a museum as a gift to his supporters. Today, the Hagia Sophia stands proudly in the Old City of Istanbul with all its magnificence still intact. Its famous dome, gilded mosaics, and its stunning size attract thousands of visitors each year from all over the world.