|Inside the Great Dome|
Around 535 A.D. Emperor Justinian had an older church rebuilt and expanded. He hired skilled architects to create the huge dome the building would be known for.
|Exterior view of the Hagia Sophia|
photo by Jose Luiz
The interior is so large that it is difficult to capture it all in one camera shot. But when you're standing inside, every direction you turn has a great view.
|The ceiling was originally lined with gold!|
photo by Ian Scott
Do you seen the large metal discs with arabic writing?
They are there because the Turks who conquered
Constantinople changed the church into a mosque.
Do you see the chandeliers?
Below is a close-up of one. You can see how big it is,
and how high above the visitors' heads.
|photo by Jose Luiz|
Even though there are chandeliers, the building was designed to let in lots of light. There are windows all along the side walls, but, as a unique feature, there are also windows even in the top dome. Below is the main hall on a sunny day.
Next, imagine that instead of facing the front, you turn to the left. On the upper level, the empress and other ladies had a great view of everything below.
Here is a closer view of the columns and upper level.
|The marble columns and paneling come from the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.|
image by Ian Scott
Here's an even closer view.
|photo by Josep Renalius|
Isn't that detail amazing?
In the Hagia Sophia you'll also find stained glass windows,
|photo by Randomil|
|Marble Urn, Hellenistic Period|
and famous mosaics.
|photo by Edal Anton Lefterov|
As this virtual tour ends, we'll pass through this outer hallway (below) towards the exit doors on the left.
If you'd like to see more of the Hagia Sophia,
or learn more about it, try the links below.
3D Tour (viewed room by room)
360 Views (viewed as you follow the floor plan)
Slideshow Photos (beautiful)
Smithsonian Article (about maintainance and restoration)
Primary Sources (6th century descriptions)
Topkapi Palace (home of the sultans, next to the Hagia Sophia)
Would you be interested in visiting the Hagia Sophia?
What parts would you like to see in person?