Birth of a Church

The work on the new and third Hagia Sophia began on February 23, 532 A.D., and it was consecrated after it was completed on December 27, 537 with a solemn mass (Kahler, pg. 9). But this was not the first church named Hagia Sophia. The first emperor in Byzantine history was Constantine. He legalized Christianity…

Church of Gold and Light

  It is said that when Byzantine Emperor Justinian entered the great church known as the Hagia Sophia for the first time in the year 527 he said, “Oh, Soloman, I have outdone thee.” He was referring to King Soloman’s Temple, which had a reputation of beauty and excellence. The emperor had commissioned the enormous,…

Earthquakes – A Dome Collapsed

Earthquakes The Hagia Sophia is built just about 17 miles from a very active fault line –the Anatolian Faultline., and has experienced over a hundred earthquakes. The dome collapsed two decades later in 558 on May 7 due to an earthquake. Justinian was still alive, and Isidorus the Younger, nephew of Isidore, one of the first…

The Hagia Sophia Today

The Hagia Sophia/Aya Sofya Today The year 1935 saw the end of the Ottoman Dynasty, and the mosque was changed into a museum by the Turkish government. The Turkish Council of Ministers stated that due “to its historical significance, the conversion of the (Hagia Sophia) mosque, a unique architectural monument of art located in Istanbul,…

Marbles

Photo: Hagia Sophia Columns by Joe Eisner @2012 – All rights reserved The Hagia Sophia featured marbles from all over the Middle East. The violet marbles, shown in the columns above, were most likely from Egypt. The marbles in the Hagia Sophia are some of the most exquisite marbles in the world. At the time…

Aesthetics of the Hagia Sophia

In the first page of her book Hagia Sophia and the Byzantine Aesthetic Experience Art Historian, Professor and author Nadine Shibille writes about the aesthetic experience of the interior of the building and the art and stone adorning that space, as well as the reactions to it through ekphrasis, or the literary response to the…

1453: Ottoman Conquest

In 1453 Constantinople was conquered by the Islamic Ottoman Turks, and this ended the Byzantine Empire. Already weak because the Black Plague killed almost half of Constantinople’s citizens between 1346 and 1349, and because the city and its empire never really recovered from the sacking in 1204, the city was utterly defeated. It is said…

1204: Sacking of the City

In 1204 Latin Crusaders from Venice, resentful of their perceived ‘excesses’ of the Byzantine Empire, sacked Constantinople. Professor Robin Cormack writes that the Byzantium art we know today are actually looted treasure after the “Crusader Sack of Constantinople”. He writes, Christian relics from the palaces and churches were the prime target, and the church of…

Mosaics

The ceilings are constructed of vaults of gold, and there are columns made of violet marble, and the marble is from Egypt. There are mosaics, and they are some of the most famous mosaics in the world. Procopius further writes about these,“The whole ceiling is overlaid with pure gold, which   adds glory to the…

Prokopios: Court Historian

          After the Hagia Sophia’s completion, the court historian, Prokopios, wrote about it. We owe him a debt for his writing, because little else exists about the church th ksuch detailed description. He begins the part about the church itself: So the church has become a spectacle of marvelous beauty, overwhelming…

Design and Structure

Byzantine church design was a mixture of Greco-Roman design, with the basilica as its model. The basilica was different than a temple. It was a rectangular building and was constructed for civic purposes. Basilicas were buildings in which court took place, and people met with their lawyers, for example. Their purpose was to hold public…