Monday, April 16, 2012

Hagia Sophia

In the sixth century, Byzantine emperor Justinian the Great commissioned the Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) basilica (here in LEGO form by Artizan) on the grounds of two previously destroyed basilicas. This was one of the primary sites of the Eastern Orthodox church as the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople for over 1000 years. For a time it was converted into a Roman Catholic cathedral after forces from the west ransacked Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. In 1453 Sultan Mehmed conquered Constantinople and converted the city to Islam. The city was renamed Istanbul and the basilica became the Aya Sofya Mosque. In 1935 President Ataturk was reforming Turkey as a secular state, and the mosque changed roles again, becoming a museum so that visitors of all faiths today can enjoy the art and architecture.

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