Brief history of the Byzantine Empire

A brief history of the Byzantine Empire and the age of Emperor Justinian


Why was Hagia Sophia built?
Why is it a masterpiece?

The story of Hagia Sophia and special techniques used in the construction of this architectural wonder


The entrance and the earlier basilica

The archeological remains of the earlier basilica and the flying buttresses


The outer narthex and the tughraof Sultan Abdülmecid

The Outer Narthex and the mosaic tughra (calligraphic monogram) of Sultan Abdülmecid


Inner narthex, the Imperial Gate and VI. Leon Mosaic

The function of Inner Narthex and Imperial Gate.
VI. Leon Mosaic, showing the emperor's penance for disobeying the patriarch


The magnificient dome and advanced structural system

Beautiful dome that seems to be "suspended from heaven by that golden chain" and brilliant structural innovations


The Porphyry (purple) columns and marble urns

The significance of the porphyry columns that were brought from great temples of Ancient World


The exquisite marble decoration of the column heads

Marble decorations of the capitals and distinctive techniques used to create them



The ceremonial square known as the Omphalion, containing the marble inlay disc


Miraculous icons and relics

Later mythical accounts and sites of popular veneration inside Hagia Sophia


Virgin and Child Mosaic, the Seraph mosaics

Virgin and Child Mosaic in the Apse.
Mosaics of Seraph angels (believed to surround the Throne of God) in the pendentives


Prominent Ottoman additions

Ottoman additions including Minbar, Mihrab, Sultan's Loge, Muezzin's Loge, and Large Calligraphic Panels


3D model: Major changes to exterior over 1500 years

3D model showing major changes to Hagia Sophia's exterior since its foundation in the 6th century


The Sweating Column

The Sweating Column and mythical accounts about its healing powers


Loge of the Empress

The loge used by empresses and their entourage to watch ceremonies taking place in the nave


The Marble Door

The decorative marble screen carved to look like shut doors and its function


Mosaics of the Bishops

Mosaics that depict three important bishops of the Christian church


Constantine and Empress Zoe Mosaic

Description and style of the mosaic. Interesting theories about why the faces on the mosaic have been changed at later dates


Emperor Comnenos and Empress Irene Mosaic

Description and style of the mosaic that belongs to the Second Golden Age of the Byzantine Empire


The Tomb of Enrico Dandolo

Remains of the sarcophagus of Enrico Dandolo, the Doge of Venice who led the Fourth Crusade of 1204


Masterpiece Deesis Mosaic and the Byzantine Renaissance

Deesis mosaic, which is a work of utmost perfection. Its cultural and artistic significance in the Byzantine Renaissance


Mosaic Panel of Emperor Alexander

The cruel Emperor Alexander and his mosaic which is a cry for mercy


The Mosaic of Archangel Gabriel

The mosaic of Archangel Gabriel, which depicts objects of both heavenly court and imperial power


Vestibule of the Warriors and the Mosaic

The Vestibule of the Warriors and its function.
Mosaic showing emperors Constantine and Justinian making offerings to Christ-child


Outside Hagia Sophia

Ottoman additions to exterior, including Sultans’ tombs, primary school and the fountain