Church of God’s Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) of Constantinople/Istanbul (AD 360)
The original building of the Church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) was built by Constantine the Great. The church collapsed and was repaired by emperor Constantius II. Contantius II and Arian bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia (modern Izmit) dedicated it in February 360.
The church was built as a traditional colonnaded basilica with galleries and a wooden roof. It was burned down during the riots following the exile of bishop John Chrysostom. There are no remains of the original church today.
Emperor Theodosius II built the second Church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) and dedicated it in October 415. It was burned to the ground during the Nike Riots in January 532.
Emperor Justinian built the third and current Church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) between 532 and 537. Justinian and bishop Menas dedicated the new church in December 537. From then until 1453, the Church of Holy Wisdom served as Constantinople’s primary church. It remained the world’s largest church for nearly a thousand years. Famous for its massive dome, it is considered the prime example of Byzantine architecture and changed the history of architecture. In May 558, an earthquake caused the collapse of the main dome, which was rebuilt and rededicated in December 562.
During the Roman Catholic conquest of Constantinople in 1204, the Church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) was raided and robbed. While the Ro- man Catholic Church occupied Constantinople for fifty-seven years, from 1204 to 1261, the Church of Holy Wisdom was turned into a Roman Catholic cathe- dral. In May 1204, Baldwin I was crowned the Latin emperor in the church. After the Byzantines recaptured Constantinople in 1261, the Church of Holy Wisdom was restored once again.
After the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople on May 9, 1453, the Church of Holy Wisdom became their central mosque. The church was an inspiration for imperial mosques, including the Blue Mosque built in 1616. The Church of Holy Wisdom functioned as an imperial mosque until February 1935, when it became a museum under the control of the Republic of Turkey. Since 2010 there have been several campaigns demanding that Hagia Sophia be converted into a mosque once again. Although the church remains a museum today, since 2013 the call to prayer can be heard from its minarets.