On our trip to Istanbul and London this summer, one of the most impressive places that we had visited was the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia is unique in that it had served as both Church and Mosque during it’s time as a place of worship.

Completed in 360AD, it had served as a Greek Cathedral in Constantinople until 1453 except during a brief period between 1204 and 1261 when it had be converted to a Roman Catholic Cathedral. In 1453, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman empire and Sultan Mehmed II who would order the conversion of the Hagia Sophia from Church to Mosque. It would remain a Mosque until 1931. In 1935, Hagia Sophia was converted to a museum and has remained that way ever since.

Aside from it’s unique history of “ownership”, Hagia Sophia is known as the site that witnessed, through conflict, the separation of Christianity into the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, where Christianity separated into Western and Eastern Ideology. In 1054, a conflict between Pope Leo IX and Patriarch of Constantinople Michael Celuarius arose where the Pope demanded Celuarius to recognize the Church of Rome as the mother and head of all churches. Celuarius, unwilling to bow to the demand was excommunicated by Cardinal Humbert within the walls of Hagia Sophia (though Pope Leo had passed away at this point) and in return Celuarius had excommunicated members of the Church of Rome which led to the rift between east and west, and hence the ultimate creation of the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. History would record this as the “Great Schism”.

History lesson not withstanding, the Hagia Sophia is a beautiful example of Byzantine Architecture and is one of Istanbul’s most beautiful buildings. Combining the history that comes with Hagia Sophia and the architecture, it’s certainly a place that one has to visit when in Istanbul. Please be aware that Hagia Sophia is closed on Mondays, so please plan your visit accordingly. For more information please go to the visitor website.

Hopefully the following photos will do it some form of justice.

The grounds outside Hagia Sophia

The Interior:

Reminders of Christianity

Reminders of Islam

Main Cathedral Ceiling

Views From The Terrace:

This Trip Report is part of a much larger report that includes our visit to Istanbul and London. Below is a current index of the trip report. The entries that have links indicates that I’ve already posted a trip report on that part of our trip.

Lufthansa First Class Services from Chicago to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Lounge in Frankfurt

Istanbul – Sultan Ahmed (Sultanahmet) Mosque.
Istanbul – The Basilica Cistern.
Istanbul – The Grand Bazaar
Istanbul – The Spice Market
Istanbul – Park Hyatt Macka Palas.
Istanbul – Our Day with Ihsan (besttaxidriver.com).
Istanbul – Hagia Sophia.
Istanbul – Other Mosques and Churches.
Istanbul – I find out what Zultanite is….
Istanbul – The Food We Found.
Istanbul – Turkish Airlines’ International CIP Lounge.

London – Hyatt Andaz Liverpool Street
London – Opening of Parliament – Great pictures of the Queen and procession to Parliament.
London – ‘The Sunshine Boys’ at the Savoy Theater (Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths)…..BRILLIANT, MUST SEE!
London – Old Spitalfield’s Market – A Gem In The Heart Of London
London – Churchill War Rooms and Churchill Museum.
London – Photos from around town.
London – Dinner at Petrus
London – St. James Park: Feathers and Fur
London – Covent Gardens.
London – All the other things that I can’t think of at the moment….

Pluckley – They said it was haunted……