This blog is about the Byzantine culture and civilization which centred at the city of Constantinople, spread across Europe, Asia and Africa and greatly influenced people’s lives and deeds. Around the Mediterranean, from the steps of Kiev and the Russian mainland down to the Nile and its Copts; and from the domes and mosques of the Muslim East it spread all the way up to France and the courts of the German emperors. Though politically Byzantium ceased to exist in 1453 when the capital itself fell to the emerging power of the Ottoman Turks, its culture had such deep roots that it continued to influence not only the Ottoman Empire, but all the states which saw themselves as successors to a culture so familiar and so deeply missed.


Hagia Sophia facts:

1) The church was built between 532AD and 537AD and was the largest cathedral in Christendom until 1520, nearly 1000 years. The legend goes that when Justinian entered the temple proclaimed, “Solomon, I have outdone thee!” (Νενίκηκά σε Σολομών).

2)According to an early Slavic chronicle, Grand Prince Vladimir of Kiev adopted Byzantine Orthodoxy after his envoys visited Constantinople and were present to a Liturgy in Hagia Sophia. They convinced him that: ” God dwells there among the people and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations”.

3) In the mosaic depicting empress Zoe and Constantine IX Monomachos, the face in the mosaic depicting the emperor changed 3 times in order to depict the 3 husbands of the empress.

4) Enrico Dandolo, Doge of Venice and one of the leaders of the 4th crusade was buried inside the church of Hagia Sophia after the church became Roman Catholic following the conquest of 1204. The Byzantines when recaptured the CIty, unburied him and threw his body to Bosporus. Today we can find his cenotaph which was placed later on the 19th century.

5) Many Ottoman mosques and the ottoman architecture in general was heavily influenced by the architecture of Hagia Sophia. Clear examples are the Blue mosque opposite Hagia Sophia, the Süleymaniye Mosque and the Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque.

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    More on the Hagia Sophia, which I visited while in Istanbul. Now a museum, the building has served as a mosque and...
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