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Hagia Sophia (Greek translation: "Holy Wisdom") is situated in Istanbul old city and it is one of the greatest Orthodox churches ever built with astonishing architecture and exceptional mosaics. The particular architecture could be placed under the basilica style, which was very popular throughout the Byzantine years. After the Turkish occupation of Constantinople Hagia Sophia, was used as a mosque and fortunately, nowadays it is operating as a museum, which helps to preserve the original Christian church character of the building.
It renowned in particular for its massive dome, and it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture. Ayia Sophia was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, until the completion of the Medieval Seville Cathedral in 1520.
The building was constructed between 532 and 537 AD on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, and was in fact the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site since the previous two had both been destroyed by riots.
In 1453, the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople and the Sultan ordered that the building should be converted into a mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed, and many of the mosaics were eventually plastered over.
The Islamic features like the mihrab, the minbar, and the four minarets outside, were added over the course of its history under the Ottomans. It remained as a mosque until 1935, when the secular Republic of Turkey converted it into a museum.
Justinian's basilica was an architectural achievement of late antiquity and the first masterpiece of Byzantine architecture. It has influenced, both architecturally and liturgically, the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Muslim worlds alike.
The vast interior has a complex structure. The nave is vast and it is covered by a central dome with a maximum diameter of 31.24 meters and a height from floor level of 55.6 meters, about one fourth smaller than the dome of the Pantheon. The dome seems preserves the unbroken arcade of 40 arched windows under it, which help flood the interior with colorful light. Unfortunately, due to consecutive repairs in throughout history, the dome has lost its perfect circular base and has become somewhat elliptical with a diameter varying between 31.24 and 30.86 m.
Pendentives carry the dome — four concave triangular sections of masonry that solve the problem of setting the circular base of a dome on a rectangular base. At Ayia Sophia the weight of the dome passes through the pendentives to four massive piers at the corners forming four great arches.