Photographs of Ayasofya

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View of Aya Sofya

Mosaics in Aya Sofya
More mosaics in Aya Sofya
More pictures of Aya Sofya

Aya Sofya from the Sea of Marmara
Aya Sofya in the snow Aya Sofya and Sultan Ahmet Mosque from the Sea of Marmara

Aya Sofya (Saint Sophia Church or Hagia Sophia) was originally dedicated in 360 by Constantine the Great but none of that structure survives. The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 by Emperor Justinian. It was the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople until 1453, except between 1204 and 1261 when the Crusaders occupation of Constantinople meant that it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral. In 1453 it was converted to a Mosque by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror. In 1934, under Turkish president Kemal Atatürk, it was secularized and turned into the Aya Sofya Museum.
It is a huge square building with a magnificent dome and beautiful mosaics dating back to when it was a church that have only recently been uncovered. When it was a mosque they were all covered up with painted plaster because there are no images or statues inside a mosque since Islam forbids praying to images of any kind.
It has been described as one of the architectural marvels of all time and is probably one of the biggest domes in the world. The 10 year renovation program has now been completed so I have been able to go back to have a good look.

Aya Sofya from the balcony

Aya Sofya from the floor