Over its 1,700-year history, the Hagia Sophia (in Turkish Ayasofya), has had numerous incarnations, both liturgical and architectural. First constructed under Emperor Constantine in 306AD and since rebuilt twice, it was named Megale Ekklesia (Big Church) before becoming known in the fifth century as the Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom). It was here that Emperors were crowned, and it was the largest cathedral in the Byzantine Empire.
The building as it is seen today was built under Emperor Justinian, and was at once the culminating architectural achievement of late antiquity and the first masterpiece of Byzantine architecture. It was used as a cathedral for over nine hundred years, and remained the world’s largest for nearly a thousand years. Following Sultan Mehmed’s conquest of Istanbul in 1453, Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque. The structure was fortified after this period, and remained in use as a mosque for almost five hundred years. Under the order of Atatürk and the decision of the Council of Ministers, Hagia Sophia was deconsecrated and converted into a museum in 1935.
As a result of Hagia Sophia's history, its influence, both architecturally and liturgically, was widespread and enduring in the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Muslim worlds alike.
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