Sunday, November 23, 2014

Little Hagia Sophia - Istanbul / Turkey

Little Hagia Sophia
Little Hagia Sophia
Little Hagia Sophia (Turkish: Küçük Ayasofya Camii] is situated in the Sultanahmet district, southwest of The Blue Mosque and north of the Sea of Marmara.

It was originally named for Saints Sergius and Bacchus and built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in 527 AD. The story goes that Justinian I was accused of plotting against his uncle, the then reigning emperor, Justin I. The night before Justinian I’s execution, Saints Sergius and Bacchus appeared before Justin I and testified that his nephew was innocent. The next day, Justinian was pardoned. As a token of gratitude to the saints, he built the church in their name when he became emperor.

In 1505, during the reign of Sultan Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque. Many changes were made to the interior, including the replacement of Christian ornaments with Islamic ornaments. Many windows of various dimensions were opened and others closed in the Ottoman architectural style.

Little Hagia Sophia
Little Hagia Sophia
Like so many structures in Istanbul, earthquakes took their toll on Little Hagia Sophia. However, the railways, built 1870-1871, in close proximity to the mosque caused the most damage. To protect the mosque, the Ottomans built a retaining wall in 1877. Further damage was caused during the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), when the mosque was used as a shelter for fugitives. The mosque underwent extensive restoration in the early 2000s and was reopened to the public in 2006.

Although Little Hagia Sophia is, indeed, smaller than Hagia Sophia (the larger and slightly younger), the architecture and interior are quite different. The inside of the mosque is cool and airy. The ornaments are done mostly in bright blue, with red, grey, and brown detailing. Calligraphed verses from the Koran and other holy symbols are aesthetically placed throughout the mosque. It’s a little out of the way, but guaranteed to be beautiful and far less busy than other major mosques.


  • There are headscarves available for female visitors, but no robes.
  • Try and plan yourvisit around prayer times.

1 comment:

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