Situated on the shores of the Bosporus, Istanbul is the only city in the world that is located on two continents, Europe and Asia. Within it, a historic and religious symbol rises up into the sky, the Hagia Sophia. For nearly 1,000 years, Hagia Sophia was the main church of former Constantinople.
Legend has it that Constantine, founder of the New Rome, had previously built a church of ‘Holy Wisdom’ here in 4th century AD. Thus the name of this church derives from the Greek.
Although the first church, as well as a later building, were destroyed by fire, the Emperor Justinian erected a larger church in the year 532 AD, the church known today as Hagia Sophia.
Throughout the centuries, Hagia Sophia served both as a church and a mosque but due to the Turkish leader, Atatürk, it was transformed into a museum in 1935.
As a result of Turkish influence and its function as a mosque, four minarets were constructed adding yet another architectural feature in addition to its magnificent dome.
Global Treasures - History's Most Protected Monuments - Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa's Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world's heritage. Join us as we explore one of these protected monuments.