The beauty of Hagia Sophia and its rich history

Hagia Sophia is probably one of the reasons why you should consider taking a vacation in Istanbul. This beautiful piece of architecture dating back to the Byzantine Empire is one of the world’s greatest and most important monuments. 

What makes this beautiful structure unique is its rich history. It changed a lot over the centuries due to the power struggles and religious affiliation of Constantinople, now known as Istanbul, during various periods in history. 

Visiting the historic site also known as the Church of the Holy Wisdom is a once in a lifetime experience. There’s no other place where you can visit this beautiful structure except for the megacity of Istanbul, Turkey. 

Planning a vacation in this marvellous city can be exciting although it’s a challenge to find the right accommodation with quality service at an affordable price. Luckily for you, Hotel Santa Pera is open all year round! 

Rest easy after a day of walking around Hagia Sophia when you pick Hotel Santa Pera as your lodging and accommodation. Sleeping on our beds can help rejuvenate your energy after exploring the vast parameters of the ancient structure so you can carry on your itinerary the next day.

Additionally, all the rooms are well equipped with furniture and appliances that you can freely use. Make your vacation easier when you book a reservation with us. There’s an assigned staff on each floor of the hotel that you can easily approach if you have any concerns or questions. 

Reserve a room with us as soon as possible to get accommodations at a discounted price. It’s easy to book a room, all you have to do is visit the homepage of this website and answer the reservation form. Once you’ve clicked submit, wait for the confirmation email you’ll be receiving in three working days. 

Moreover, you can also hire one of our staff as your tour guide for your Hagia Sophia tour. Our skilled employees are well equipped with knowledge about Istanbul so they can help guide you throughout your vacation. You can also rent one of our shuttles to take you to and from Hagia Sophia. 

If you’re planning to rent out a shuttle or bring a Hotel Santa Pera tour guide with you, please call the receptionist so we can plan it out with you. The Hagia Sophia tour is worthwhile especially with the help of the Hotel Santa Pera staff and guide!

Hagia Sophia history

Regarded by Historians as a symbol of early medieval mysticism, Hagia Sophia was first built by Constantine I as a pagan temple. The original building was a basilica with a wooden roof atop. Originally, during this time, Hagia Sophia was known as the Megale Ecclesia or the great church. 

The temple was consecrated by Constantine II in 360 CE. However, the pagan temple was damaged by a fire that emerged during a riot while St. John Chrysostom was banished for a second time. 

When the Roman Empire gained control of Constantinople, they rebuilt the temple. By 415 CE, the temple was restored and enlarged under the supervision of Theodosius II. It burned down again a hundred years later because of the Nika Revolt against emperor Justinian I. 

The revolt that caused the downfall of the temple’s edifice gave the emperor a reason to reimagine its structure. He reopened the temple in 537 CE after the reconstruction was completed. It surpassed the size of Solomon’s Great Temple in Jerusalem which was believed to be the largest temple in the world during that time. 

Hagia Sofia sustained further damages from natural causes such as earthquakes following the restoration of Justinian I. By the mid-14th century, the temple was once again restored. After that, it was known as the Cathedral of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and enjoyed peace for more than a millennium. 

However, the temple suffered from the hands of the Venetians by 1204. These catholic soldiers looted the temple during the Fourth Crusades ordered by the Catholic Church. 

Two hundred years later, after the Ottoman Empire gained control over Constantinople in 1453, Mehmed II ordered that Hagia Sophia be turned into a mosque. Wooden minarets, a great chandelier, mihrab, and a minbar were added to the edifice. These Islamic elements added to the structure were repositioned after a few years to face the mecca. 

While the Ottoman regime prospered, buttresses were added to the eastern side of the temple. It became a complex that housed tombs, fountains, and libraries. 

Because the Ottoman reign brought Islamic influences over the city, the mosaic panels depicting Christianity and pagan symbolisms were covered in the 18th century. 

Over the years, Hagia Sophia was a pagan temple, Church, and Mosque. Its function was always repurposed depending on the influence of the leader during that time. By 1934, Turkish President Kemal Atatürk turned Hagia Sophia into a museum in an attempt to secularize the place. 

The historic temple has long been a museum and remained open to people who wish to visit the place. It’s considered one of Turkey’s most famous destinations because of its rich and colourful history. 

Moreover, Hagia Sophia tells the story of resistance and change. The structure that stands on the site today was not the original facade it had centuries ago. Hagia Sophia is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Although it’s well protected under the law, Its walls still carry mysticism and beauty of periods that were highly influential to the history of the entire world. 

Reasons to visit Hagia Sophia

Visiting Hagia Sophia is a life-changing experience because of its splendid architecture, artworks, and rich history hidden within its walls. Taking a vacation to Istanbul is worth your every penny not only for the various tourist attractions you can visit but also for this marvellous temple. 

Including Hagia Sophia in your itinerary is a must! Here are some of the reasons why you should visit this centuries-old megastructure: 

  1. It tells a magnificent and historical lesson about Constantinople’s origins

When you visit Hagia Sophia, you’ll also see adjacent buildings and structures that reflect the architectural style of the country’s past. You can see influences from Byzantine, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Ottoman regime in these facades. 

It isn’t only Hagia Sophia that’s worth seeing in the area, there are also other places you can visit like Sultan Ahmet Museum, Yerebatan Cistern, Carpet Museum, Topkapi Palace, Hippodrome, Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, and many more. You can visit all these places if you hire the shuttle service of Hotel Santa Pera. 

  1. Hagia Sophia is one of the biggest temples in the world

Although there are others that are quite bigger than Hagia Sophia, it’s still one of the largest temples that were constructed during the earlier years of Christianity. Moreover, for over a thousand years, Hagia Sophia did not have any rivals when it came to its size until the construction of Seville Cathedral in 1506. 

You’d be surprised at how many things you can discover from a megastructure such as this temple. Each corner of this facade can tell you stories of historical events and cultural elements of various periods. Bring one of Hotel Santa Pera’s skilled tour guides to help you through a comprehensive tour of Hagia Sophia so you can have the ultimate experience!

  1. The temple has an older neighbouring temple you can visit

Before Hagia Sophia was built, there was an older temple considered Istanbul’s first and oldest church. The Hagia Eirene was also burnt down during the Nika Revolt. Along with Hagia Sophia, this temple was also rebuilt during the reign of Justinian I. 

This beautiful temple right next to the Hagia Sophia is also worth your time. Moreover, there are various historical events tied to this structure. It became an ammunition house for the Ottoman Empire during their reign and was also converted into a museum hundreds of years after. 

  1. A weeping column

There’s one column inside Hagia Sophia that’s believed to be miraculous because of its ‘tears.’ There are stories about the column’s healing abilities and it can be traced back to Justinian I. Legend has it that the column once cured the headache of Justinian I. 

Many people believe that the column possesses healing abilities because of the tears of Maryam. Visitors often rub the wet column and smear it all over the affected body part. It’s easy enough to spot this area because a lot of people flock the column. 

  1. A wonder of the world

Hagia Sophia is no doubt one of the most marvellous structures in the world. It is regarded as a UNESCO heritage site and protected under the law. The rich history of this extraordinary facade is worth visiting because you’ll learn a lot. 

Moreover, it’s interesting to see what Hagia Sophia looks like in modern times with its various reconstruction and restoration. Although the original structure isn’t there anymore, it still has historical significance because of its history. 

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