Monday, April 23, 2012

Images of The Incredible Hagia Sophia Basilica, Istanbul

Pictures, Images & Photos of Hagia Sophia Istanbul.

Pictures & images of Hagia Sophia ( Aya Sophia ) Basilica Istanbul. Completed in 537 under Emperor Justinian, Hagia Sophia is a major Roman Byzantine work of architecture with a massive dome that would not be surpassed in size for 1000 years.

The present Hagia Sophia or church os the Holy Wisdom, is the third Basilica to stand on this site. The previous Basilica was burnt to the ground during the Nika Revolt of 13th Jan 532 when thousands of rampaging fans at the Hippodrome were slaughtered by Emperor Justinians's soldiers after they rioted & sacked the city.

The size of Hagia Sophia is awe inspiring even by modern standards and the mathematics used to create such a vast dome demonstrate how sophisticated ancient mathematicians & engineers were. Justinian chose physicist Isidore of Miletus and mathematician Anthemius of Tralles as architects to complete the task but the dome structure was too massive and the main dome collapsed completely during an earthquake on 7 May 558. It was rebuilt with lighter materials and 30 feet higher by Isidorus the Younger, nephew of Isidore of Miletus and today stands at 55.6 metres (182 ft). Hagia Sophia has withstood many earthquakes over time being repaired and buttressed to give it strength.

Hagia Sophia was the Church of the seat of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople and was decorated inside with Roman Byzantine mosaics with gold backgrounds that would have made for a spectacular interior. The Fourth Crusade (1202–1204) took and sacked Constantinople and most of the treasures and relics from Hagia Sophia were looted by the Venetians who used took them back to Venice to adorn the Basilica of Saint Marks.

In 1453 Sultan Mehmed took Constantinople and the treasures of Hagia Sophia were again pillaged. The Basilica became a mosque and its design was the benchmark for all the great mosques that were subsequently built. Over time the Christian mosaics, that were seen to idolatrous by Muslims who do not allow depictions of Saints or God, were replaced with Islamic designs. Aya Sophia became first imperial mosque of Istanbul and has the mausoleum's ( Türbe ) of the early sultan rulers of Istanbul.

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of an independent Turkish state, in 1935, the first Turkish President and founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, transformed the building into a museum and any religious worship in the building was forbidden. It was repaired and plaster removed to reveal some of the Roman Byzantine mosaics that survived underneath. Today it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that incorporated Ancient Istanbul.

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