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Fun Facts About Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia is one of Istanbul’s most popular tourist attractions, but did you know that…

…the Hagia Sophia is 1,478 years old.

Construction began in 532 CE and was completed in 537 CE. The first two churches were destroyed, and the third, which is the model that still stands today, was ordered by Emperor Justinian I. He wanted a basilica more majestic and larger than either of its predecessors, and he recruited physicist Isidore of Miletus and mathematician Anthemius of Tralles as the architects to design the project.

…the materials used to construct the Hagia Sophia were sourced from all over the Byzantine empire?

The Hellenistic columns are from the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, large stones from quarries in porphyry were brought from Egypt, green marble was transported from Thessaly, black stone from the Bosporus region, and yellow stone from Syria. Istanbul has always been a major player on the world stage and the Hagia Sophia is just one example of its historical significance.

…it took the work of more than 10,000 men just to construct the dome of the Hagia Sohpia?

And they did it in record time. It took these men just 5 years, 10 months and 4 days to complete the dome.

…the Hagia Sophia immortalizes a chapter of Turkey’s history within its walls?

What is most intriguing about the Hagia Sophia isn't merely it's age and the fact it has existed for nearly fifteen centuries, but that with a little research, one can discover that it is a chapter of a story of Turkey's history that has been immortalized for all to worship and admire.

The Hagia Sophia was first a basilica, or church, and then a mosque. Millions have passed through its doors, crossed the gleaming floors and knelt within the towering dome to pray and reflect. The mosque was active from 1453–1935.

In 1453, when Constantinople was taken by the Ottomans on May 29, the Hagia Sophia was believed to contain some of the city’s greatest treasures. During the three days of pillage allotted to Sultan Mehmet II, troops beat down the doors to Hagia Sophia and its occupants – who had been primarily those unable to defend themselves from the city's siege such as the elderly, women, and children – were taken capture by the invaders.

Despite the horror that overtook the city and the church, priests continued to perform Christian rituals. They were later stopped by the invaders and when Sultan entered the church, he converted the Hagia Sophia into a mosque. One of the Ulama then climbed the pulpit and recited the Shahada, an Islamic creed that declares oneself to God.

…is now a museum that honors both the Islamic and Christian religions?

From that point forward, the Hagia Sophia was a mosque until 1935, when the first Turkish president and founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, transformed it into a museum that has both Islamic and Christian influences and features, making it one of the few spiritual sites to incorporate imagery from both of these religions.

Today, the Hagia Sophia is a restored museum that boasts awe-inspiring mosaics and artifacts, and hosts a variety of tours for visitors to enjoy.

Visit the Hagia Sophia During Your Stay in Istanbul

Whether you come for business or pleasure, be sure to schedule some time to go visit the Hagia Sophia. The Hagia Sophia is only 2.3 km (1.4 miles) from the Hotel Büyük Keban, which makes our location in the Old City one of the most enviable in Istanbul. Not only will you be close to the beautiful Hagia Sophia, you’ll also be steps away from other famous attractions such as the Blue Mosque, Topkapı Palace, Taksim Square and the Grand and Spice Bazaars.

Contact us today to learn more about our location and amenities or simply book your room now!

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