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Turkey

Saint sophia basilica

Vista of Saint Sophia's Basilica

Saint Sophia (Haghia Sophia), on Sultanahmet square, is an extraordinary construction from the Byzantine era.

A splendid example of the grandeur and sophistication of the empire, Hagia Sophia was the largest church in the world until it was transformed into a mosque by the Ottomans in 1453.

Its minarets, mausoleums, and fountains date back to this period.

Inside, the central cupola, created as a terrestrial mirror to the heavens actually gives you a true sense of elevation.

Saint Sophia, is the most important monument in Istanbul, not only for its history, but also because it is an architectural marvel, with a cupola that is more than 118 feet wide and 183 feet off the ground.

Entrence to the Basilica

The history of this building, which was rebuilt three times, is eventful, to say the very least.

Burnt down by an angry crowd in 404, it was rebuilt in 415, during the reign of Theodosis, and burned down again during the Nika revolt.

Emperor Justinian then decided to rebuild the church and make it more magnificent than ever.

He asked the mathematician, Anthemius de Tralles, and the great geometrician, Isidore de Milet, to draw up the plans.

icon of Jesus Christ

The emperor did everything in his power to make this project happen. The building took 10,000 men five years to complete.

Pagan monuments were pillaged all over Europe. The gymnasium at Ephesus provided its 8 columns.

The most beautiful marble in all the Mediterranean was brought to Istanbul for its construction.

But all of this had a cost, and the town was broke when construction was completed and the the basilica decorated.

Yet the beauty of the interior of this temple will simply take your breath away.

Constantin IX,the Christ, and Zoe

Currently, the basilica is being restored. So you'll have to peak through the scaffolding (once you're eyes have adjusted to the semi-darkness) to admire, the mosaics, illuminations, and various stained glass works.

Take all the time you need to discover one of the most beautiful monuments in the world.

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