Hagia Sophia, also known as Ayasofya, was originally built as a church in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian I and was later converted into a mosque during the Ottoman era. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction that draws visitors from all over the world.
The Hagia Sophia's architecture is a beautiful blend of Christian and Islamic influences, reflecting the rich cultural history of Istanbul. The building features an impressive dome that spans over 100 feet in diameter and reaches a height of 184 feet. The interior is adorned with intricate mosaics, stunning frescoes, and beautiful marble columns, making it a true masterpiece of Byzantine art and architecture.
One of the most famous features of the Hagia Sophia is the intricate mosaic of Christ Pantocrator, which dates back to the 9th century. Other notable mosaics include those depicting the Virgin Mary, Emperor Constantine IX, and Emperor Justinian I. Visitors can also see the Sultan's loge, which was added during the mosque's conversion to Islam.
In 1935, the Turkish government decided to turn the Hagia Sophia into a museum, recognizing its cultural significance and importance. However, in 2020, it was converted back into a mosque.
Today, visitors can still admire the stunning architecture and learn about the fascinating history of this iconic landmark.