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.