Hagia Sophia

When Emperor Justinian entered the Hagia Sophia on December 27th in 548 to consecrate it, he was overwhelmed by the unprecedented size and splendor of the basilica. He gave thanks to God and cried out: “Solomon, I have surpassed thee!” This magnificent church, standing as it does on the city’s highest hill, was to embody the center of the Christian world as a symbol of spiritual and temporal power. In just five years a domed structure was erected by the renowned architects Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus. With a dome 55.6 m high and 32 m in diameter, and walls pierced by rows of windows, the church of Hagia Sophia has always seemed so luminously light that the historian Procopius enthusiastically described the dome as suspended from heaven on a golden chain. The Justinian Hagia Sophia is standing on ruins. In 404, the church which had been erected by Emperor Constantine burned down. The five-aided basilica built by the Emperor Theodosius II and completed in 415 was destroyed in the Nika Insurrection. Excavations have uncovered remains of the vestibule which can be seen in front of the central entrance of Hagia Sophia.

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