(Turkish Aya Sofya, Latin Sancta Sophia, also called Church of the Holy Wisdom or Church of the Divine Wisdom): Dating from the sixth century, it was originally a basilica constructed for the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. A masterwork of Roman engineering, the huge 30 m. diameter dome covers what was for over 1.000 years the largest enclosed space in the world. By general consensus, it is the most important Byzantine structure and one of the world’s great monuments.
The Hagia Sophia was built in the remarkably short time of about six years, being completed in 537. The church was looted by the fourth Crusaders in 1204, and became a mosque in the 15th century when The Ottomans conquered the city. It was converted into a museum in 1935.
There are three aisles separated by columns with galleries above and great marble piers rising up to support the dome. The walls above the galleries and the base of the dome are pierced by windows, which in the glare of daylight obscure the supports and give the impression that the canopy floats on air.