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Articles > Europe > Turkey > Istanbul > Visit The Haghia Sophia In Istanbul - A Last Relic Of Constantinople

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Visit The Haghia Sophia In Istanbul - A Last Relic Of Constantinople
Anyone visiting Istanbul on a holiday is sure to love the city's most staggering landmark: the Haghia Sophia. As Istanbul's most remarkable building, the Haghia Sophia stands out amongst the city's sea of stunning architecture, acting as a solid testament to Turkey's long and ancient history. What's more, the Haghia Sophia has changed its faith twice over the years; but, whatever your religion, the stunning beauty of the Haghia Sophia is sure to appeal to your aesthetic senses.

The most famous church in the Christian kingdom during the medieval ages, the Haghia Sophia was designed by two mathematicians from Athens during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, who aimed to create a structure that supported the world's largest dome. Constructed in 535 AD, the Haghia Sophia - whose name means Divine Wisdom - remained the largest dome in the world until St Peter's was erected in Rome. At the time of its construction, the dome of Haghia Sophia was so unusual for the architectural climate of the time that some faithful Christians refused to enter it for fear that the ceiling would fall on their heads!

During the Fourth Crusade and the sacking of Constantinople by the Venetians in 1204 AD, the Haghia Sophia saw many of its ancient treasures being stolen and taken off back to Venice. As the most sacred space in the city, the Haghia Sophia saw its holiest of relics stolen - including a trace of Christ's blood, a piece of the Holy Cross and relics of St. John and St James - which were then taken to churches all around Western Europe and lost from the sight of Constantinople. However, the Venetians did not manage to steal Haghia Sophia's precious stone porphyry columns which, during the time of construction, were floated along the Nile to Constantinople, from what is now Sudan.

The fall of Constantinople in the fifteenth century saw the advent of the Ottoman Empire, and in 1453 the Haghia Sophia was turned into a mosque. This development saw the building's many mosaics being either destroyed or covered with plaster, due to the ban on representational images in Islam. However, in the 1930s, a large number of mosaics were restored by a team from the American Byzantine Institute so people who visit the Haghia Sophia today can enjoy these important artistic monuments to the Byzantine Empire.

Today, the Haghia Sofia has been transformed into the Ayasofya Museum; so people who visit Istanbul will be able to enjoy its ancient treasures and diverse history. And as many airlines offer frequent flights to Istanbul from London, you'll find it easy to get to this timeless monument of Turkey's turbulent history.
About the Author
Author of the article is Andrew Regan. For further information check flights to Istanbul.
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