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The original dome was completed in 537 AD. 25 years later, in 562 AD, it was replaced by the current dome which is 6.25 m taller, giving the church its current interior height of 55.60 m.
The dome is supported by semidomes acting as buttresses and the interior features coloured marble colonnades supported by columns topped with elaborately carved capitals.
When completed in 537 AD, the Haghia Sophia was the largest church in the world, and Constantinople (Istanbul) was the world's largest city.
Today, the Haghia Sophia is the 4th largest church building in the world.
Following the invasion of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, Mehmet II claimed Haghia Sophia for himself; the building was converted into a mosque and the four minarets were added.
In the 1930s, Kemal Ataturk, the President of Turkey, converted the building into a museum.
The Haghia Sophia (Divine Wisdom) comprised the world's largest enclosed space for nearly 1,000 years.
Eight calligraphic discs, four of which are the
largest examples of calligraphy in the Islamic world,
embellish the interior and bear the names of Allah and
Mohammed (above the apse) and the four successive
The building's central interior part measures 100 meters long and 70 meters wide (interior dimensions of the central praying hall), and is capped by a magnificent dome with a diameter of 31.87 meters and an interior height of 55.60 m.
There are frescoes of Archangels whose faces are hidden behind their upper pair of wings (as defined in the Bible) - on each four corners under the main dome.
The Haghia Sophia was built during the reign of Justinian The Great - the most famous of all Byzantine emperors. Justinian not only built Great buildings, but also managed to restore a large amount of the former Roman Empire's western territories (like Italy, southern France, eastern Spain and northwestern Africa) under Byzantine rule; thus partially reuniting the Roman Empire. The victories of his able general, Belisarius, had great importance in his efforts to reunite the Roman Empire. Justinian also created a famous set of legal codes (Codex Justinianus: The Codes Of Justinian, 529-534 AD), which are still used today as the basis for modern legal systems in the Western world.
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