When most people think of the great Byzantine Empire, they picture the wonders of the Hagia Sophia. The temple is a living masterpiece still standing as it once did hundreds of years ago. Records say the first to build it was Emperor Constantius, but after the temple was destroyed in 532 Emperor Justinian sought to build a new church. His goal was to build the greatest church to ever stand.
Emperor Justinian entrusted this great undertaking to two men, Anthemius of Tralles and Isiodorus of Milletes. Scientist, architect, scholar, engineer, and even artist, these two men used all these talents to create the design for the Hagia Sophia. They both supervised one hundred master builders and ten thousand labors as well as the richest of the world being poured in for the temple. In the surprisingly short time of five years, ten months, and four days, the temple was completed on December 27th 537. Putting all formalities aside, Emperor Justinian excitedly rushed into the church to proclaim, “Solomon, I have outdone thee!”
For a while the grand church endured earthquakes, fires and numerous additions. When the Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453 they converted the old church into a mosque for Islamic worship. Many changes were made during this time. An altar was built to face Mecca, minarets were built to surround the temple, and even a library and a primary school were built. On February 1st 1935 the Hagia Sophia entered its current phase as a museum. For over 1,000 years an indestructible symbol of peace the Hagia Sophia has stood proudly as it does today.