Known for its rich culture and tradition, Istanbul is home to the impeccable Hagia Sophia which is both a mosque and a church.
The Long History Of Hagia Sophia
Present Istanbul was first a Greek city, then a Roman city till it was taken under the rule of Constantine and thus named Constantinople.
Hagia Sophia had its foundation laid in 360 A.D. by Byzantine Emperor, Constantius. The emperor recognised Christianity in those times and thus the structure was initially constructed as a church.
However, in consequence of a riot, it was burned down in 404 A.D. Hagia Sophia was then rebuilt and the new structure was completed in 415 A.D.
However, this structure wasn’t the one you see today, this new structure had a wooden roof, monumental entrance and five naves.
Then came the famous Nika revolts which unfortunately brought Hagia Sophia down to its base.
This damage seemed beyond repair, which forced Emperor Justinian I to order its demolition in 532 A.D.
However, he made it his duty to bring the structure to stand again and hired renowned architects to build the third Hagia Sophia which stands erect till today.
What’s to be noted here is that Hagia Sophia still stood as a church.
Then Why Did It Turn To A Mosque?
200 years later came the Ottomans and captured Constantinople, renaming it Istanbul.
Islam was the central religion of the Ottomans and hence they renovated the Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
As part of the reconstruction, the Ottomans covered many of the original Orthodox- themed mosaics with Islamic calligraphy designed by Kazasker Mustafa İzzet.
The panels, which were hung on the columns in the nave, feature the names of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad, the first four Caliphs, and the Prophet’s two grandsons.
The mosaic on the main dome which was said to be an image of Jesus Christ, was also
covered by gold calligraphy.
A mihrab was installed in the wall, as is the tradition in mosques, to indicate the direction toward Mecca, one of the holy cities of Islam.
Hagia Sophia Today
As a result of many religious debates, in 1935, nine years after the Republic of Turkey was established, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum.
Istanbul is still stirred with requests for the operation of the Hagia Sophia as a mosque for the majority of the Turkish population follows Islam.
Do you think it should be converted back into a mosque? Or should it remain to stand as a museum? Let us know in the comments below.
Image Sources: Google Images
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