Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia
   Justinian I's (q.v.) great church in Constantinople (q.v.), built from 532-537, dedicated to the holy wisdom (hagia sophia) of God. It was erected on the ruins of a fourth-century basilica burned down in the Nika Revolt (q.v.) of 532. Justinian's architects, Anthemios of Tralles and Isidore of Miletos (qq.v.), may have been inspired by the church of St. Polyeuktos, built the decade previous. They created a domed basilica of incredible size, resting on a square formed of four arches and further supported by four pen-dentives (q.v.) in the corners of the arches, 55 meters above the floor. The first dome was too shallow and collapsed in 558. Isidore the Younger (q.v.) replaced it with a steeper ribbed dome, 31 meters in diameter, which, despite partial collapses in 989 and 1346, has survived to the present day. Viewed from inside the church, the dome (840 square meters) seems to hover over the spectator, and one's eyes move restlessly to the amorphous space that expands beyond the dome into galleries, outer bays, half-domes, and apse. Its beauty was celebrated by the poet Paul the Silentiarios (q.v.) in a poem delivered in 563, which is the best contemporary account of its internal arrangements. Justinian himself, when viewing the completed church, is said to have boasted that he had outdone Solomon. Indeed, the monumentality of Hagia Sophia remained unique in Byzantine architecture.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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  • Hagia Sophia (disambiguation) — Hagia Sophia means either Holy Wisdom or Saint Sophia (Ἁγία Σοφία or Αγία Σοφία in Greek, Sancta Sophia in Latin, Ayasofya in Turkish). It is a reference to the attribute of The Holy Wisdom of Jesus Christ , especially in Eastern Orthodox… …   Wikipedia

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