The Hagia Sophia is an ancient house of worship now converted into a museum located in Istanbul, Turkey. It is famous for its massive dome and is considered as a premier example of ancient Byzantine architecture. It was considered as the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years up until the 1520’s when the Seville Cathedral was completed.
The Hagia Sophia was considered to be the epitome of Byzantine architecture. It was constructed as a church somewhere between 532 and 537 AD. It was ordered built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian after previous two churches occupying the site were destroyed by riots. The architects who designed the Hagia Sophia were Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles.
Material used for the Hagia Sophia came from places all over the empire. Hellenistic columns came from Ephesus while large stones were brought from quarries as far away as Egypt, Syria, Thessaly and the Bosporus region. More than ten thousand people worked on the majestic cathedral during its construction. The cathedral was inaugurated on December 27, 537.
The Hagia Sophia was used as the seat of the Orthodox Church and a setting for Byzantine ceremonies and coronations for hundreds of years. It was however converted into a mosque when the Ottoman Turks invaded Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453. Certain additions where made into the ancient structure to give it a look more closely resembling a mosque.
The Hagia Sophia is considered as one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. It was widely known for its richly decorated interiors composed of intricate mosaics and marble pillars. Majestic in nature during its time, it was widely known is the Christian as well as the Muslim world.
The largest columns were about 19 to 20 meters tall and about 1.5 meters in diameter. It was also known for its massive dome that was considered a marvel during its era. The maximum diameter of its central dome stretches 31.24 meters and stood at a height of 55.6 meters. It was known to be the first structure ever to have its dome supported by pendentives, an architectural method of placing a dome over a rectangular room or area.