December 27: Hagia Sophia

On this date in the year 537, Emperor Justinian inaugurated the Basilica of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (Istanbul). For nearly a thousand years, Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral in the world.

Hagia Sophia Banner

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Istanbul and Vicinity Map

Map of Istanbul (historically Constantinople) from the ClipArt ETC website. The Bosporus Strait divides Europe from Asia. Istanbul is on the west (European) side of the waterway. The location of Constantinople between Europe and Asia has made it an important crossroads in history.

Exterior of Hagia Sophia

Exterior of Hagia Sophia from the ClipArt ETC website.

Interior of Hagia Sophia

Interior of Hagia Sophia from the ClipArt ETC website.

Floor Plan of Hagia Sophia

Floor plan of Hagia Sophia showing the central dome and two half-domes. Illustration from the ClipArt ETC website.

Dome System of Hagia Sophia

Dome system of Hagia Sophia from the ClipArt ETC website.

Cross Section of Hagia Sophia

Cross section of Hagia Sophia from the ClipArt ETC website.

Cross Section of Hagia Sophia

Cross section of Hagia Sophia from the ClipArt ETC website.

Cross Section of Hagia Sophia

Cross section of Hagia Sophia from the ClipArt ETC website.

Interior Panel Design

An example of the interior decoration of Hagia Sophia from the ClipArt ETC website.

Spandrel from Hagia Sophia

A spandrel is the space between to arches. This pattern is one of many found between the arches at Hagia Sophia. The capital of the supporting column would be just below the middle of the design. Illustration from the ClipArt ETC website.

Capital of a Column

Example of a column capital at Hagia Sophia. Many of the capitals there have intricately carved capitals. Illustration from the ClipArt ETC website.

Interior Circular Panel Design

Circular panel design from Hagia Sophia. Illustration from the Byzantine Ornament gallery of the ClipArt ETC website.