In the Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia (once a Byzantine church, then a mosque, and now a museum) is a miraculous space, with a dome surrounded by light that — it is said — appears to be suspended from heaven.

Some background

videos + essays

We're adding new content all the time!

Hagia Sophia as a mosque
Hagia Sophia as a mosque

After the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, the sultan repurposed this church, adding slender “pencil” minarets.

<em>Deësis (Christ with the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist)</em>, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Deësis (Christ with the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist), Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

When the most important church in the East became a mosque, this mosaic was covered but three faces survived.

<em>Theotokos mosaic</em>, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Theotokos mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

The size and solidity of this Virgin and Christ reaffirmed the power of images in the wake of Byzantine iconoclasm.

Hagia Sophia as a mosque
Hagia Sophia as a mosque

After the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, the sultan repurposed this church, adding slender “pencil” minarets.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

The golden dome of this vast building appears suspended from heaven. It has withstood quakes, conquest, and crusades.