Hagia Sophia

Trip Start Jun 05, 2006
Trip End Jun 14, 2006

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Our hotel room was warm so Julia and I propped open a balcony door to circulate the night air. The early Muslim call to prayer woke us so we woke and went to the early breakfast buffet in the hotel. The first stop on our tour was The Hagia Sophia.

Emperor Constantine I (324 - 337 CE) proclaimed Christianity as the official state religion. Constantine began constructing large churches everywhere in Byzantium (aka Constantinople and now Istanbul). Hagia Sophia was dedicated with appropriate pomp and circumstance on February 15, 360. Apparently the first building was constructed with a wooden roof on an oblong basilica fit to serve as the church home of the emperor. And the first name was Megoal Ecclesia which means "colossal church." Eventually the first building burned.

By the fifth century the second building was constructed. It was called Hagia or "saint" Sophia or Holy Wisdom (Theia Sophia). As a side note, "Sophia" is a Hebrew word which is a feminine name for God. During the riots in the sixth century the church burned down again only to be redesigned and constructed. The remains of the present Hagia Sophia are what we now have to tour.

Hagia Sophia was the scene of many events throughout the entire history of the Byzantium. Emperors were crowned and victories celebrated. When the Turks conquered Istanbul in 1453, Hagia Sophia was in a devastating shape and eventually the church was made in to a Mosque. Now there are four minarets, and a Muslim prayer alter
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