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Private Istanbul tour, Hagia Sophia – a symbol of tolerance and harmony
Private Istanbul tour can help get an answer of if it is a Church? A Mosque? A Museum?
One thing is sure, though – it’s a place where religions meet. You can see Islamic art and Christian architecture blend blissfully. Hagia Sophia stands as a symbol of Istanbul throughout time. A symbol of timeless majesty!
Sophia (as the Greek know it) or Aya Sofia (in Turkish) or St.Sophia, or simply the Church of Holy Wisdom (as they call it in English) and you will find it really enjoyable for all the history, inspiration and beauty it offers.
In answer to the question if Hagia Sophia was a church, a mosque or a museum – it has been in fact all three! We will see all the answers in our city tour Istanbul.
Until the 16th century Istanbul’s most famous monument was the largest enclosed space in the world. For almost a thousand years Hagia Sophia maintained its status as the largest Christian church.
Built at the command of Emperor Justinian in the years 532 to 537. Hagia Sophia was first constructed as a church, then became a mosque and is now a museum. It was turned into a museum by Ataturk, the first president and the founder of modern Turkey, in 1935. Justinian’s church was completed in less than 6 years and reigned as the greatest church in Christendom until the Conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

Mehmet the Conqueror penetrated the city
When Mehmet the Conqueror penetrated the city in 1453. His first official stop was to this overwhelming symbol of an empire that he had conquered. And with his head to the ground, he invoked the name of Allah and declared the great house of worship a mosque. The Christian Icons were removed and the mosaics on the walls were desecrated. And then the walls were plastered over. The Muslims then installed Arabic writings from the Koran all over the church. Four minarets were erected and the gold cross on the top of the dome removed and replaced by a brass crescent to signify that it was now a mosque. It is now as significant to Muslims as it is to Christians.
Private Istanbul tour – Keeping his promise to build a church like no other, Emperor Justinian chose the two preeminent architects of the day: Anthemius of Tralles (Aydin) and Isidorus of Miletus to build it. After 5 years and 4 months, when the construction of the Aya Sofya was completed in A.D. 537, the emperor raised his hands to heaven and proclaimed, “Glory to God who has deigned to let me finish so great a work. O Solomon, I have outdone thee!” What the two architects did, without the benefits of today’s technology, remains unequalled.