Aya Sofya (Saint Sophia): An Outstanding Architectural Monument

Aya Sofya (Saint Sophia) is one of the most beautiful and wonderful historical monuments in Istanbul. It combines the originality of Roman Byzantine architecture with the beauty of Islamic architecture, in view of the fact that it is an Eastern Orthodox church in which the Byzantines crowned their emperors, but also because of its transformation into a mosque during the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Mohammad Al-Fatih, who bought it with his own money and turned it into a Waqf for the benefit of Muslims all over the world. In 1935, the founder of modern, secular Turkey, Mustapha Ataturk, transformed it into a museum visited by more than four million tourists a year from all religions.

The Cathedral of Saint Sophia, whose name means “wisdom of God”, was built in the year 523 A.D. on the ruins of a church founded by Constantine the Great on the orders of Emperor Justinian. He was so impressed by it that he said that even the Prophet Solomon, who made the Jinns work to build great buildings for him, did not succeed in constructing a building of such beauty, as many historical references indicate.

This church was built with vaulted basalt stones, marble and mosaic. Its length is 100 metres and the height of its dome is 55 metres. It was transformed into a mosque when the Muslims entered Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453 and did not find space to pray. They covered Christian images and introduced Arabic calligraphy. They refused to demolish it because of the beauty of its architecture and transformed it into a mosque once Sultan Al Fateh bought it from the Orthodox monks. It was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List several years ago.

The building, which is more than 1500 years old, has been burnt down more than once throughout history and underwent several restorations and refurbishments before taking its present form as a unique architectural masterpiece.

Aya Sofya has recently been the subject of much controversy following the decision of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to convert it back into a mosque. Its drawings will be covered using modern techniques during prayer hours. Tourists will then be able to access it outside these hours.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.