Istanbul • Hagia Sofia, Turkey

"Discover Hagia Sophia, this jewel of Istanbul, in less than 6 minutes. Immerse yourself in its fascinating history, from its construction by Emperor Constantine to its transformation into a mosque, and into a museum. Be amazed by its architecture breathtaking, its huge dome and its richly detailed interior decoration. Take the opportunity to explore this Basilica of Wisdom, witness to many historical events. Thanks to our illustrated video and our detailed explanations, Hagia Sophia will no longer hold any secrets for you. you. Embark on this journey through time, to the heart of the history of Istanbul, Turkey!"

This film was made on the basis of photos and videos taken during the trip Turkey • Istanbul 2015

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Reading the text below will help you better understand the historical context of the sites shown in this video.

Located opposite the Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul, Hagia Sophia largely inspired the architects who built this great mosque nicknamed the Blue Mosque, more than 1000 years later.


Origin of the basilica


Hagia Sophia was built on the site of a temple of Apollo by Emperor Constantine in 325 and inaugurated by his successor in 360. At the time, it was the largest church in Constantinople. It was probably covered with a wooden roof. Following a riot in 404, the building was devastated by fire.

Emperor Theodosius II had the great church rebuilt in 415, but was set on fire again a century later in another popular riot, this time against Emperor Justinian.


Reconstruction of Hagia Sophia


It is the same Emperor Justinian who ordered its reconstruction, but much larger, in 532. It is this construction that has continued to this day.

The materials for the construction of this immense basilica flowed in from all parts of the empire. Greek columns from the temple of Artemis in Ephesus, porphyry from Egypt, Greek marble, black marble from France among others.

This monumental basilica was from the start considered an absolute masterpiece of architecture, and its most remarkable element from a technical point of view is undoubtedly its immense dome in a completely open space. A real feat.

Another equally remarkable feat, the construction of the complex lasted less than 6 years. However, the basilica was inaugurated before all the interior decoration was finished, which was done around 570.

The dome, although technically revolutionary, did not withstand the first earthquakes after its construction, as early as 553.

The reconstruction took place immediately after this destruction, however with lighter materials and a slightly different shape. This modification gave its final appearance to the basilica which can still be admired today.

Earthquakes are frequent in the region, this dome has undergone several reconstructions over the centuries.


Saint Sophia, seat of the Orthodox Church


Hagia Sophia was the seat of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, and the ceremonies there followed the Orthodox rite.

Constantinople again experienced several earthquakes and fires which each time required major work to strengthen the building.


The Crusades


Hagia Sophia was plundered by the Crusaders during the 4th Crusade in 1204, destroying among other things the great altar to recover the riches it contained.

The Byzantines regained control of the city in 1261.


The Ottoman empire


Constantinople was taken by the Ottomans in 1453, and one of the first steps of the new ruling Muslim rulers was to convert the magnificent basilica into a mosque, without renaming it. She kept her name of Ayasofya. While most Christian places of worship were destroyed by the new masters of Constantinople, Syasofys (Hagia Sofia) escaped any plunder because Sultan Mehmet II attached great importance to it.

The basilica was in a deep state of disrepair and Mehmet II ordered its cleaning and total repair before conversion into a Muslim place of worship.

Hagia Sofia underwent several restorations over the following centuries.

The huge circular panels of more than 7 meters in diameter adorned with the calligraphy names of the first four caliphs, Abu Bakr, Omar, Uthman and Ali as well as the names of the two grandsons of the prophet, Hassan and Hussein were suspended from the 4 pillars in 1859.


Republic of Turkey


After the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War, nostalgic Ottoman groups plan to dynamite the Grand Mosque since the country was occupied by the infidels of the victorious coalition. Fortunately, they did not carry out their project, but the occupation of Istanbul by the Westerners automatically lost its status as the "great mosque of the empire" in Saint Sophia.

When he came to power, Mustapha Kemal Attaturk decided to restore Hagia Sophia and transform it into a museum in 1934.

Hagia Sofia would keep this museum status until a decision by the Turkish authorities in 2020, restoring its mosque status, to the chagrin of Unesco and many Western art lovers.



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about the place, Istanbul:

Istanbul is the economic capital of Turkey. It is at the same time the largest city in the country. The city was founded in the 7th century BC under the name Byzantium. 

In 330 CE, Emperor Constantine the Great designated it as the new capital of the Roman Empire and initially called it New Rome. Later it became Constantinople. For 16 centuries it was the capital of several empires, Byzantine, Roman and Ottoman. 

Constantinople was a Christian city for a long time, even hosting 4 of the first 7 councils. With the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the city became Muslim before becoming the seat of the Ottoman Caliphate in the early 16th century. 

At the time of the formation of the Republic of Turkey, the capital was transferred to Ankara and the city was renamed in 1930 to become Istanbul.


Spoken comments in the film: 

Construction of the Hagia Sophia began in the 4th century. What was originally a high place of Christian worship became a mosque in the 15th century after the capture of Constantinople by the troops of Mehmet 2, the Ottoman sultan. This building is a pure architectural marvel and the construction of its dome is a technical feat which still commands the admiration of current architects. 

The Sultanahmet Mosque (nicknamed the Blue Mosque) is largely inspired by the style of Hagia Sophia, 1,000 years her senior.



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Disclaimer: Despite its appropriateness, copyright issues prevent the use of turkish traditional music in "Istanbul • Hagia Sofia, Turkey", hence the use of royalty-free music. Despite our careful selection, some might regret this decision, which is necessary to avoid potential lawsuits. Although difficult, this decision is the only viable solution.

Under the dome of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul • Turkey

Under the dome of Hagia Sophia

marble vase at the entrance of Hagia Sophia , Istanbul • Turkey

marble vase at the entrance of Hagia Sophia

islamic calligraphy Hagia Sophia, Istanbul • Turkey

islamic calligraphy Hagia Sophia

columns inside Hagia Sophia, Istanbul • Turkey

columns inside Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul • Turkey

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