Hagia Sofia, Istanbul, Turkey

Essay by shift99High School, 12th gradeA-, June 2004

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Hagia Sophia

(The Holy Wisdom of Christ)

Istanbul, Turkey, 532-537

The church of Hagia Sophia, originally known as the Great Church because of its colossal size in comparison with the other churches of the Capital, was associated with one of the greatest creative ages of man. The Roman methods of engineering, mixed with the assimilation of indigenous traditions were united in the size and awe inspiring magnificence of the Hagia Sofia. It was the most important church in Constantinople.

The church of Hagia Sophia is believed to have been founded by Constantine the Great. The initial building was erected over the ruins of an ancient temple of Apollo, situated on a hill commanding a magnificent view of the Sea of Marmara.

After the founding of the church by Constantine, the site upon which it lay suffered much brutal treatment from rioting locals. During the reign of Theodosius I, the church was burnt to the ground by enraged crowds.

Theodosius' son Theodosius II chose to rebuild the church which resulted in the same fate of that of his father's church, with the credit due, yet again, to rioting locals.

After the repression of the revolt, Justinian I took on the task of rebuilding the Great Church from its foundations. This time it was to be built on plans well in advance of the times, using new daring, vaulting techniques and statics. The mathematician Anthemius of Tralles and the architect Isidorus of Miletus used their imagination and scientific accuracy to create a new design and build a masterpiece that would stand unique throughout the centuries. Construction work only took the short period of five years to complete.

To a degree, the Hagia Sofia represents the importance of their religious believes and how worship was carried out during the 6th century. This...