Hagia Sophia (Turkish: AYA SOFYA) means “Holy Wisdom” in Greek, and its edifice was constructed at the entrance to the Bosphorus in the European section of Istanbul. -
"Hagia Sophia" is a majestic Turkish religious edifice; it is magnificent by the country’s residents, Muslims and Christians alike. After it was the largest Orthodox Christian cathedral for 900 years, it became one of the greatest mosques of Muslims for nearly five centuries, then it became an art museum since 1934 by a political decision. It is considered an organization UNESCO is a historical monument belonging to the global cultural wealth.
The name Hagia Sophia is said to mean in Greek the "holy wisdom", and its edifice was constructed at the entrance to the Bosphorus in the European section of Istanbul, Turkey. Today its location is known as the "Sultanahmet District".
When Hagia Sophia was built, it was intended - architecturally - to be the largest Christian church, and as evidence of the advanced technical capabilities of the then Byzantine Empire.
Its building, which took five years to construct and represents one of the masterpieces of Byzantine art, includes a wide dome that is 55.6 meters high and 32 meters in diameter, and is based on four huge columns, each reaching 24.3 meters high. This is in addition to the walls built of marble brought in from many countries, and decorated with shiny golden mosaics and colored stones.
The main building is 82 meters long, 73 meters wide, 55 meters high, and has nine gates. Its surface was covered with mosaic stones, and the walls - after converted into a mosque - are decorated with inscriptions of the Ottoman calligrapher. Also added four cylindrical minarets in the Ottoman style.
Hagia Sophia was established in 537 by order of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (527-565) - whose rule extended from Spain to the Middle East region - as a religious edifice unparalleled in the Christian world, and a title of the strength of the Eastern Roman state.
It remained the official church of the Byzantine Christian state and the jewel of its capital, Constantinople, although it was destroyed and burned more than once, until the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II (known as "Muhammad Al-Fatih") conquered the city in 1453 and changed its name to "Istanbul", and entered this church where he prayed the first Friday after The conquest, and making it a great mosque, symbolizes - in the opposite direction - the power and control of the Ottoman Empire.
From that time on, the Hagia Sophia became a great Islamic mosque with great symbolism for the Turks, until their military leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk - who ended the rule of the Ottoman caliphate in 1923 and declared the establishment of a secular republic in its place - in 1931, then transformed it in 1935 to An art museum with Islamic and Christian archaeological treasures.
Many Turks are still looking forward to the day when the Hagia Sophia Museum returns to a mosque for Muslims. On May 27, 2012, thousands of Muslims prayed in front of its building in protest of the law banning religious rites in it, on the occasion of the 559th anniversary of the victory of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror and conquest of Constantinople. The protesters chanted, "Break the chains ... and open the Hagia Sophia mosque ... the captive mosque."
In 2013, a Turkish academic magazine published a paper on the Turkish historian Yusuf Halagoglu and two researchers who said that it was not possible to continue making Hagia Sophia a museum, because it was converted into a museum that was done "illegally" by forging Ataturk's signature on the decision on the subject.
But Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded to these demands - when he was prime minister in 2013 - that he would not consider changing the status of the Hagia Sophia as long as there is another great Islamic edifice in Istanbul that is almost empty of worshipers and is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, whose construction dates back to the 17th century, pointing to The city has more than three thousand mosques.
With the succession of demands for the return of the Hagia Sophia mosque; The Justice and Development Party government allowed the opening of a mosque in the back of the building, and the most beautiful muezzin of Istanbul assigned voices to remove the call to prayer from a building located in “Ayasofya” square, so that the call to prayer echoed through the loudspeakers in its minarets.
Then, in June 2016, the Turkish Religious Affairs Presidency issued a decision to recite the Qur’an daily in Ayia Sofia during the holy month of Ramadan for the year 1437 AH, and launched from it a religious program for Laylat al-Qadr entitled “Better than a Thousand Months”, which was raised at the end of the Turkish muezzin Sheikh Fateh Koca The call to prayer is from the same location from which the last time the Hagia Sophia was lifted 85 years ago, a period that is approximately equal to "a thousand months".
The state of Greece criticized these steps and considered that "the Turkish behavior reaches the limits of religious fanaticism, shows a separation from reality, and that these actions are incompatible with democratic and secular societies," and represents "an insult to the feelings of millions of Christians."
Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of three hundred million Orthodox Christians worldwide, also demanded that the Hagia Sophia site be kept a museum.
The American Commission for Religious Freedom in the World - an advisory body set up by Congress from members of the Democratic and Republican Parties - issued a statement saying that the return of the Hagia Sophia Mosque "would jeopardize Turkey's international status and bring to mind the mistreatment of Christians over the past century".
But the Turks say that the Greeks have no right to object to reading the Qur’an in Hagia Sophia after they demolished many of the Ottoman monuments that remained in their country that were for centuries under the rule of the Ottomans, and misused other monuments to the point that one of the mosques of the city of Thessaloniki was converted into a cinema showing pornographic films, as well as Athens is among the few world capitals in which mosques are not permitted to be built.
Hagia Sophia is seen as a world archaeological landmark, reflecting the diversity of the cultural heritage of Istanbul, which is located on the point of civilizational intersection between East and West, and has historically been the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. It was included by UNESCO in 1985 in its list of World Heritage Sites.
But it represents a global cultural symbol that has a special weight for Orthodox Christians everywhere, and it is a religious tourist destination for millions of them due to its religious and emotional connotation. For the Greeks, among them, in particular, it is a strong memory of a historical period that embodies their hopes for a better future, not with the intention of expansion and expansion, but in terms of Christian religious consolation.
In economic terms, Hagia Sophia is ranked second among the most attractive Turkish museums for tourists. In 2012, it attracted 3.3 million visitors. Among the most famous Christian religious figures that I visited in the last five decades was the late Pope John Paul VI, who raised a surprise when he was kneeled and prayed during his visit to Turkey in 1967.
On the evening of Thursday, November 30, 2006, his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, visited her, then he went to visit the Blue Mosque, overcoming the great controversy that had arisen over his visit to these places. He then repeated her visit to Pope Francesco, on November 29, 2014.