Hagia Sophia is a historic and iconic building located in Istanbul, Turkey. Originally built as a cathedral in the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century, it has since been repurposed as a mosque and now functions as a museum. The structure's grand dome and impressive architecture have made it a popular destination for tourists and historians alike.
During its time as a cathedral, Hagia Sophia was a symbol of the Byzantine Empire's power and grandeur. The structure's impressive size and intricate mosaics reflected the wealth and skill of the empire's artisans and architects. After the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople in 1453, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque and underwent several renovations to adapt to Islamic traditions. In 1935, it was converted into a museum by the Turkish government, which has allowed visitors to appreciate its historic and cultural significance.
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Location: Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı No:1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye
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The best time to visit Hagia Sophia is during the shoulder seasons of spring (April-May) or fall (September-November). During these times, the weather is mild and crowds are generally smaller than during the peak summer months. It's also advisable to visit early in the day, when the museum is less crowded and the light inside the building is particularly beautiful. Be aware that the museum is closed on Mondays, and there may be long lines during peak tourist season.
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Hagia Sophia was built between 532 and 537 AD during the Byzantine Empire.
"Hagia Sophia" means "Holy Wisdom" in Greek.
Hagia Sophia was originally built as a cathedral for the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque in 1453 after the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople.
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Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum in 1935 by the Turkish government.
The dome of Hagia Sophia is made of brick and mortar and is supported by pendentives, which transfer the weight of the dome onto massive columns below.
The dome of Hagia Sophia is 55.6 meters high, or approximately 182 feet.
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Some of the Christian mosaics are still visible inside Hagia Sophia, but many were covered with plaster or removed entirely during the mosque period.
In 1739, Sultan Mahmud I restored a building and added a medrese (Koranic school) that later became a museum library. He also included an imaret (soup kitchen) for the needy and a regular library. In 1740, a Şadirvan (fountain for washing) was constructed, transforming the building into a külliye (social complex). Additionally, a new sultan's lodge and a new mihrab (prayer niche) were built inside. Overall, Sultan Mahmud I improved the building, creating a comprehensive social and religious center.
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