The History of Hagia Sophia, The Church That Became a Mosque

Hagia Sophia, called the “8th World Wonders” by historians, is one of the most visited museums in the world in terms of art and architectural history.


Hagia Sophia was built in 537 AD in the Middle Ages, which was originally a Greek Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Emperor era, Justinian.


In 1453, this place was converted into a mosque by Sultan Mohammad al Fatih or Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror when the Ottoman Empire (Ottoman) conquered Christian Bzantium.


The building built in the sixth century was converted into a museum when Turkey was under secular rule, following restoration work during the Ottoman era and the addition of towers by architect Mimar Sinan, Hagia Sophia became one of the most important monuments of world architecture.


During Erdogan’s several years of government, there was an increase in Muslim activity in the museum, including reading the Koran at a certain time.


Even in 2016, the Greek Government was angry and criticized the steps of the Erdogan government which had allowed the Koran and the voice of the call to prayer echoed from Hagia Sophia. Greece is worried that President Tayyip Erdogan’s Government is trying to turn the Hagia Sophia site back into a mosque.


But the Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned Greece for criticizing the reading of the Koran and the call to prayer during Ramadan held at Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) in Istanbul.


“The Greek Foreign Ministry, instead of expressing its congratulations to the Turks during the holy month of Ramadan and‘ Night of Strength (Kadir Gecesi), chose to distort the recitation of the Quran and call for prayer at Hagia Sophia, “said the Turkish Foreign Ministry


Lately, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he would change the function of the Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul to become a mosque.


“Ayasofya (Haghia Sophia) will no longer be called a museum. The status will change. We will call it a mosque, “Erdogan said on a program to broadcast Turkish television, as quoted by Anadolu Agency on Wednesday (03/27/2019).


“We think the time has come to take that step taking into account the requests of Turkish citizens,” AFP quoted Erdogan as saying.


According to Erdogan, the status of Hagia Sophia was returned to the mosque after going through the selection of local bodies on March 31, 2019. At present, the entrance ticket to the Hagia Sophia museum is worth 60 Lira, equivalent to 10 US dollars.


Responding to the criticism of foreigners this decision, Erdogan precisely remembers their silence over the attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, but instead is busy taking care of Hagia Sophia.


“Those who remain silent in the attacks (Masjid al-Aqsa) have no right to advise us what to do (regarding the status of Hagia Sophia),” Erdogan said.


Hagia Sophia as a Church


Constantinople was founded thousands of years ago by the legendary Greek hero, Byzas, the city was named after its name, Byzantium. In 324 Emperor Constantine moved the Eastern Roman capital to this city and since then his name was changed to Constantinople and his country was called Byzantium. Constantinople is often called New Rome, the city with the most trading activities.

As the capital of the largest empire of its time, many inhabited by various ethnic groups and dominated by ethnic Greeks. The Byzantine Emperor built many churches and cathedrals and the most luxurious was the Hagia Sophia as Holy Wisdom Church.


This three-level church was made by Emperor Justinian in just 6 years and was completed in 537. And none of the buildings could rival the width and height of the dome until the 16th century when Sinan built the Blue Mosque.


At that time the Hagia Sophia was decorated with gold, studded with gems on the walls of its church, hundreds of paintings of mosaics and other works of art added to the beautiful building and made the people inside it like being showered with stars. A masterpiece that makes eyes wide and mouth gaping witnessing its beauty.


Hagia Sophia as a mosque


On Tuesday, May 29, 1453, a general attack carried out by Sultan Mehmed II or Muhammad Al Fatih who departed from Edirne from March 23, 1453 on Friday, finally broke through the walls of Constantinople and the fall of the city’s defenses on that day, after the descent of the Yeniseri army . The Byzantine Empire fell, the conquest of the city of Constantinople became a new beginning for the city that was glorified throughout the world at that time, a symbol of Western conquest by the East.


After descending from his horse and bowing to Allah SWT, Sultan Mehmed II rode to the Hagia Sophia church, the most extensive building and the most prestigious landmark in the world of his time. The Sultan approached the church door, and asked the pastor to calm the people and return to their homes on bail from him.


The Hagia Sophia with its huge and tall dome, with windows above it spilling golden glowing light as it entered the interior, emitting mystical charisma that no building in Constantinople had. Hagia Sophia, the greatest building of its time. The Sultan decided that Hagia Sophia would become a city mosque, and immediately the call to prayer began to be echoed at Hagia Sophia. And since then the call to prayer has always been echoed in the sky of Constantinople.


Each painting on the wall is closed, and given the verses of the Qur’an, the symbols of Christianity and statues in the form of living things are removed, and cleaned up in preparation for prayer. On the first Friday June 1, 1453, the first Friday prayer was held at Hagia Sophia. On that date the Sultan also appointed the Orthodox Christian Church, namely the head of the chief priest who administered Christian affairs, namely Gennadius Scholarius. Christians are given the widest opportunity to carry out worship in their houses of worship.


After the conquest of Constantinople, the Ottoman capital moved to the city. The name Constantinople changed to Istanbul (City of Islam). The Sultan built Constantinople and restored it as the center of civilization and made it the grandest city in the world. The Sultan ordered the architects to decorate the city with gardens filled with water, mosques, baths, and also Kapali Carsi or Grand Bazaar, as a central market that accommodates thousands of traders. In 1459 the Sultan ordered the establishment of a palace building, at the most protruding point to the sea, and the palace. Top up the answer.


Hagia Sophia being a mosque lasted 482 years, almost five hundred years. The total building was a place of worship as a church and mosque for almost 1400 years, although it was repaired several times.


Hagia Sophia as Museum


In 1935 when Turkey became a Republic, its first president Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, ordered to turn the Hagia Sophia into a museum. Begin the demolition of the Hagia Sophia, by reappearing the symbol of the sacred paintings of Christianity, as we can see today. Where there are two symbols of Islam and Christianity in this building.


Given its age, its rich history and also the beauty of its architecture, in 1985, was set by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

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