An Jap Orthodox patriarchal cathedral for about 900 years, an imperial mosque for 482 years after which a museum and a famed vacationer spot beginning 1935. That is the brief historical past of Hagia Sophia, the sixth century Byzantine construction that has survived pure calamities, imperial invasions, crusades and a World Warfare. The architectural marvel in Istanbul, which is revered by each japanese Orthodox Christians and Muslims, is now being turned into a mosque by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Hagia Sophia (actually ‘Holy Knowledge’) was constructed by the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian I, within the first half of the sixth century. This was the third cathedral being constructed on the web site. The primary one, with a wood roof, is believed to have been commissioned by Emperor Constantine I in AD 325 on the stays of a pagan temple. This was burned down by rioters in AD 404.
The second church, ordered by Constans I, was additionally destroyed in a hearth in the course of the Nika riots of AD 532 that noticed widespread hearth and destruction in Constantinople (at present’s Istanbul). After establishing order within the metropolis, Justinian discovered the fireplace a chance to rebuild the cathedral together with his stamp on it. The imperial Byzantine energy was at its pinnacle underneath Justinian. The Empire had conquered a lot of the traditionally Roman Mediterranean coast, together with Italy, Rome and North Africa (The Byzantine affect would begin shrinking after the outbreak of the Justinian Plague, one of many deadliest pandemics in recorded historical past).
The basilica, designed by mathematician Anthemius of Tralles and physicist Isidore of Miletu, was accomplished in 5 years by greater than 10,000 labourers. The Emperor reopened it in AD 537. Whereas getting into the church, he’s reported to have stated, “Solomon, I’ve surpassed you!”, in a reference to King Solomon’s Nice Temple in historic Jerusalem. Justinian needed the cathedral to symbolise the magnificence of japanese Christianity. The primary non secular service within the rebuilt Hagia Sophia was held on December 27, 537 within the presence of the Emperor. “My Lord, thanks for giving me the prospect to create such a worshipping place,” Justinian stated on the service.
Newest Information The Ottoman period
Barring a couple of years after the Fourth Campaign, Hagia Sophia had been the cathedral of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople till the autumn of town within the 15th century. A number of earthquakes broken it partially, resulting in restorations. Within the early 13th century, crusaders looted the constructing and turned it right into a Roman Catholic cathedral. However after the Byzantines recaptured town from the Venetian crusaders, they restored the cathedral and it continued to stay the seat of the Patriarch till the Ottomans got here.
On Could 28, 1453, when Constantinople was underneath siege and the Ottomans had been making regular advances into the Byzantine defence strains, Emperor Constantine XI entered the basilica to wish. After prayers he returned to town partitions to coordinate the battle efforts. However the Byzantine defence lasted solely someday. The following day, the Ottomans, underneath the command of Mehmed II the Conqueror, entered town. Mehmed is believed to have been mesmerised by the architectural great thing about the basilica. He “dismounted on the door of the church and bent all the way down to take a handful of earth, which he then sprinkled over his turban as an act of humility earlier than God,” in response to an account of the Sultan’s entry into Hagia Sophia by John Freely and Hilary Sumner-Boyd of their e book, Strolling By way of Istanbul.
The Sultan determined to show the basilica right into a mosque. The Ottomans later commissioned the famend medieval architect Sinan to renovate the construction. They constructed large buttresses to assist the partitions. A mihrab (a semi-circular area of interest on the wall that signifies the qibla, the route of Mecca) and a minbar (pulpit) had been put in. New minarets got here up. The Ottomans lined most of the Byzantine mosaics with Islamic calligraphy. The photographs of Jesus, Mom Mary, saints and angels had been both destroyed or plastered over (Some mosaics had been restored when the mosque was transformed right into a museum). The mosque, known as Ayasofya in Turkish, remained the centre of energy all through the Ottoman rule. The Byzantine structure had additionally deeply influenced Ottoman constriction initiatives. It’s seen on essentially the most main mosques the Ottomans constructed such because the Blue Mosque, the Sehzade Mosque, the Suleymaniye Mosque, the Rustem Pasha Mosque and the Kilic Ali Pasha Advanced.
Newest Information A secular museum
After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following the First World Warfare, secularists, underneath the management of Mustafa Kemal (who was later known as Ataturk, the daddy of Turks), got here to energy.
Ataturk, who abolished the Caliphate and launched a powerful secularisation drive within the nation, closed down Hagia Sophia in 1930, seven years after the inspiration of the Turkish republic. 5 years later, the constructing was reopened as a museum. Since then, Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage web site, has been some of the visited monuments in Turkey, and extra importantly, an emblem of Christian-Muslim co-existence. Final yr alone, 3.7 million folks visited Hagia Sophia.
Turning the monument again right into a mosque has been a rising demand from the Islamist sections of Turkish society. Mr. Erdogan, whose Justice and Improvement Occasion has been in energy for 18 years, has supported the demand. On Friday, a Turkish administrative court docket cancelled the museum standing of the monument. Mr. Erdogan moved quick, issuing a decree, transferring the administration of Hagia Sophia from the Ministry of Tradition to the Directorate of Spiritual Affairs. With this, Turkey’s Islamist politics has taken a brand new flip.