The History and Unknowns of Hagia Sophia
Today, there was the palace of the Byzantine Empire where Topkapi Palace was. The great hippodrome, where big races were held and war games were played, was in the area where the present Sultanahmet Mosque is.
Hagia Sophia Mosque in the Ottoman period?
Located in the most central part of the state, the Hagia Sophia Church was the biggest temple of the Byzantine Empire and Orthodox Christians.
WHAT DOES HAGIA SOPHIA MEAN?
Hagia Sophia means “sacred wisdom” or “divine wisdom” in Greek.
When was Hagia Sophia Made?
The construction of the church began in the time of the Byzantine emperor Constantine I. However, in 360, II. It was completed in the time of Constantine. However, it was devastated by a fire. In 415, Emperor II. It was repaired and reopened for worship by Theodosios. This time it burned completely during an uprising. Emperor Justinian decided to build a magnificent church in place of this completely destroyed church. Its construction began in 532 and was completed in 537. It was built by two architects named Miletus Isidoros and Tralles Anthemius. According to the sources, approximately 10 thousand people worked in its construction.
Hagia Sophia square
The materials used in its construction were brought from Mediterranean countries. Columns of the Temple of Artemis were brought to Constantinople and used in Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia, which has reached today, is this building built by Justinian.
Hagia Sophia lived its worst days when the city was invaded by the Crusaders in 1204. He was subjected to unattractive ugliness in a temple. He was plundered, destroyed, his valuables and sacred treasures stolen and taken to European churches.
When Byzantine took over again in 1261, Hagia Sophia was in ruins. The people of the city, which was looted, tried to repair Hagia Sophia again. However, the earthquake in 1344 caused severe damage to Hagia Sophia. The state in distress was closed for a period of worship because it could not repair this beautiful temple. It was repaired in 1354 with special taxes and donations collected from the public, and was reopened for worship.
FEATURES OF HAGIA SOPHIA
The dimensions of Hagia Sophia are 100 m x 70 m. It has an interior area of approximately 7500 m². It has a two-story structure. There are 107 columns in total, 40 of which are on the lower floor and 67 on the upper floor. The longest of the columns is about 20 meters. The columns have a radius of 1.5 meters and an estimated weight of 70 tons. Most of the columns used in the building are older than the building. The reason for this is that the columns were brought here from various temples in Anatolia.
ALTERATION OF HAGIA SOPHIA FROM THE CHURCH TO THE MOSQUE
When Fatih Sultan Mehmet conquered the city in 1453, a clean and new page was opened in the life of this temple, which was used as a church for 916 years.
When Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror conquered the city, he only took Hagia Sophia as a loot for him. After the conquest, the church was devoted by the Sultan and converted into a mosque with the first Friday prayer that Fatih personally performed as an imam.
Hagia Sophia was especially protected by Sultan Mehmet II. Even the slightest movement that would harm the temple and degrade its sacred value was not attempted. No damage was made to the decorations left over from the years when he was a church. Plaster was closed on mosaic decorations that were contrary to Islamic belief.
HAGIA SOPHIA FOUNDATION
Sultan Mehmet donated many goods to Hagia Sophia to bring income to the mosque. In a short time, he built a mihrab, a minaret and a madrasa for the mosque. In the following periods, a minaret was added by Sultan II Bayezit and two more minarets were added by Sultan Selim II. Minarets added during the reign of Sultan Selim II were built by Mimar Sinan. At the same time, Mimar Sinan repaired the Hagia Sophia Mosque upon the order of Sultan Selim II. Houses and buildings built around it and began to damage the mosque were demolished. The side walls carrying the dome of the mosque were reinforced with reinforcements.
SYMBOL OF CONQUEST
On the other hand, Sultan Mahmut I built a mihrab with a magnificent art fountain, a children’s school, a soup kitchen, a library, and a new hatchet that adds beauty to the beauty of Hagia Sophia. Thus, Hagia Sophia, which turned into a complex, became the most popular temple of the Ottoman State with a care that it has never seen throughout history. Serving as a mosque for 481 years, Hagia Sophia has always been a symbol of conquest in the eyes of the Turkish nation.
Conversion of AYA SOFIA into a museum and later becoming a Mosque
Hagia Sophia Mosque was closed to worship in 1932 for restoration purposes. With the permission of the Turkish government, a group of scientists from the USA started work to reveal the mosaics covered by plaster by Sultan Mehmet II. At the time of these works, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum by turning it into a political event and was opened as a museum in 1935.
With the Friday prayer performed on Friday 25.07.2020, the mosque officially became a mosque again.
Translated by Orhan Harisoğlu, The History and Unknowns of Hagia Sophia.