Saint Sophia Church

The Church of Saint Sophia. Saint Sophia Church is located just in front of the Blue Mosque in the Sultan Ahmet District of Istanbul.

The church was built around 360 by the Emperor Constantino and burned down twice. It was rebuild at 530 AD by the Emperor Justinian.

The layout and decoration is typical of a church of the Byzantine period. After the Turks took over Constantinople in 1453 AD., Saint Sophia was turned into a mosque and four minarets (the tall, thin towers), were added to it. Saint Sophia was restored several times because of damage caused by a series of earthquakes.

View  of Saint Sophia by plane

In 1934 the founder of the Turkish republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk established that the monument would be a museum and that there would be no services inside the monument. Neither Christians nor Muslims could celebrate prayers within Hagia Sophia.

So from 1934 to mid-2020 it was neither a church nor a mosque but a museum. During all these years, both Christian and Muslim decoration in the monument could be appreciated. It was very interesting to be able to see these two religions coexisting in peace inside a splendid monument like Saint Sophia.

In mid-2020 the Turkish government decreed that the Hagia Sophia museum would be converted into a mosque and today there are islamic religious celebrations inside the monument. Entrance fees are not charged, everyone has to remove their shoes when entering and women must cover their heads with a scarf. Unfortunately, one cannot appreciate the beautiful Byzantine mosaics dating from the 9th century, because when they were converted they were covered, since Muslims are not idolaters (they do not accept images inside mosques).

Saint Sophia - The church of knowledge

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