In the east edge of Constantinople, the “City of the Cities”, the administrative and religious center of the Byzantine Empire, Hagia Sophia rises.
This magnificent monument of “God’s Wisdom” was firstly inaugurated by Constantius II and it was rebuilt in 415 by Theodosius II. Its later destruction, during the Nika Riots, gave the opportunity to Justinian to build the impressive edifice, still preserved, following the ambitious and innovative architectural proposals of Isidorus of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles, based on the domed basilica.
The church was inseparably linked to the course of Constantinople through time. It used to be seat of the Patriarchate and the place where everyone could see the imperial power. Byzantine rulers tended to its enrichment and splendor, thus marking it as a target for plunders, for example the plunder of the church in 1204 by the Latin Crusaders and in 1453 by the Ottomans of Mehmed II.
After the Turkish conquest, the church was immediately transformed into a mosque, continuing to be a religious center, but this time of another dogma.
From the mid-19th century, excessive restoration works have taken place. Furthermore, the mosaics have been cleaned, a process that still goes on.
For its edificial worth and significant importance in history, it was included in 1985 in the List of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Hagia Sophia was declared a museum in 1934 maintaining its name: Ayasofya Müzesi. Till now, the church runs as a museum with many visitors.