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Hagia Sophia Cathedral

Hagia Sophia is the former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, later an Ottoman
imperial mosque and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Built in 537 AD at the beginning of
the Middle Ages, it was famous in particular for its massive dome. It was the world's largest building
and an engineering marvel of its time. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is
said to have "changed the history of architecture".
The Hagia Sophia construction consists of mostly masonry. The structure is composed of brick and
mortar joint that are 1.5 times the width of the bricks. The mortar joints are composed of a
combination of sand and minute ceramic pieces displaced very evenly throughout the mortar joints.
This combination of sand and ceramic pieces could be considered to be the equivalent of modern
concrete at the time.[3]

Justinian chose geometer and engineer Isidore of Miletus and mathematician Anthemius of
Tralles as architects for building the Cathedral. Columns and other marbles were brought from all
over the empire, throughout the Mediterranean. The idea of these columns being spoils from cities
such as Rome and Ephesus is a later invention. More than ten thousand people were employed.
This church was contemporaneously recognized as a major work of architecture.
Hagia Sophia is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture.[1] Its interior is
decorated with mosaics and marble pillars and coverings of great artistic value. The temple itself
was so richly and artistically decorated that Justinian proclaimed, "Solomon, I have outdone thee!".
Justinian himself had overseen the completion of the greatest cathedral ever built up to that time,
and it was to remain the largest cathedral for 1,000 years up until the completion of the cathedral in
Seville in Spain.[64]
The dome of Hagia Sophia has spurred particular interest for many art historians, architects and
engineers because of the innovative way the original architects envisioned it. The great dome at the
Hagia Sophia is one hundred and seven feet in diameter and is only two feet thick. The main
building material for the Hagia Sophia composed of brick and mortar. Brick aggregate was used to
make roofs easier to construct.
Originally, under Justinian's reign, the interior decorations consisted of abstract designs on marble
slabs on the walls and floors, as well as mosaics on the curving vaults. Of these mosaics, one can
still see the two archangels Gabriel and Michael in the spandrels of the bema. Present mosaics are
from the post-iconoclastic period.
Apart from the mosaics, a large number of figurative decorations were added during the second half
of the 9th century: an image of Christ in the central dome; Orthodox saints, prophets and Church
Fathers in the tympana below; historical figures connected with this church, such as Patriarch
Ignatius; some scenes from the gospel in the galleries.