Church To Mosque - The Transformation And Ancient Mysteries Of Hagia Sophia
Turkey has a very long and fascinating history, but the most mystifying one that has the entire world hooked is the story, architecture, and existence of an ancient monument.
Hagia Sophia which was once called Sancta Sophia has shocked people from around the world with its survival from natural calamities, but most importantly its survival against religious beliefs and political upheavals. From being the largest dome and being the biggest cathedral in the world, to a mosque and now a secular museum – everything about this place is captivating.
Origins of the dome
Hagia Sophia, an engineering marvel, was completed in the year 537. Its unparalleled magnitudes were believed by many to have been the work of the divine as its design and structure surpassed many others until the construction of St. Peters church in Rome built in 1506.
“The statue of liberty which is 305 feet can fit beneath the Hagia Sophia dome with room to spare”
Hagia Sophia’s architecture influenced religious sanctuaries globally. It is also believed that the opulence of this place led Russia to change to Orthodox Christianity.
The auditorium and minarets of Hagia Sophia are classic essences of Constantinople, now called Istanbul.
Built during the mid-500 AD, this structure is the only one in the world to have served as a hub for two different religions, it weathered the rise and fall of empires. When once it was a monument representing the Greek Orthodox Christianity, later the same place became a shrine for the Sunni Muslims
Many people say that the God of Islam, Muhammad, had presaged that the first Muslim to pray at Hagia Sophia would attain salvation. When the Ottomans came into power, Mehmed the Conqueror demanded the place be converted into a mosque.
Robust structural design
An architecture marvel, Hagia Sophia has been strong enough to withhold many city cracking earthquakes for thousands of years, but no body knows the mystery behind the resilient structure and how it could have such a sturdy yet futuristic design.
Another one of the mysteries is that despite being built by designer Isidore of Miletus and architect and geometrician, Anthemius of Tralles, who were interested in tunnels, this structure was said to not have any underground levels until their recent discovery. What lies beneath this dome and why was it covered up for so many centuries is another mystery which still remains covert.
Hidden Christian Mosaics
This monument has many mosaics plastered all around, but the most notable one is the Deesis Mosaic. When they were discovered, they created quite a stir and the entire world was enthralled by the lost world of Byzantium. These mosaics told the story, revealed the culture, history and suffering of that period.
There have been heated debates and controversies throughout history about the image and representation on those mosaics. Researchers claim that the image is of the philosopher, Apollonius of Tyana who resembles Jesus Chris. Many theories suggest that the Apollonius inspired the creation of Christ, whether that is fiction or not is another mystery to decipher.
Hagia Sophia is a wondrous museum showing contrasting cultures. We can see Byzantine mosaics representing Chrisitanity and on further exploration we also have a chance to see inscribed quotations from the Quran. Today it represents history, story of survival and a blend of religious alignment and harmony - just like it should be.
Watch Hagia Sophia - Istanbul's Ancient Mystery
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