Hagia Sophia Mosque, universally recognized as one of the most important monuments in the world, constitutes the spiritual center of Istanbul. Built during its time as one of the largest and most magnificent buildings on Earth, Hagia Sophia became one of the most striking symbols of Istanbul that was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1985. Following the conquest of Istanbul in the year 1453, Fatih Sultan Mehmed Khan endowed Hagia Sophia Mosque, bequeathing the perpetual preservation of this structure and stipulating the continuity of its status as a mosque. In this context, Hagia Sophia Mosque, cherished by our nation with deep affection, has been safeguarded as the apple of Istanbul’s eye for centuries and has managed to endure as a heritage of humanity until today.

Having served as a mosque for 481 years, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1934. This situation came to an end on July 10, 2020, marking the conclusion of an 86-year-long longing. On the auspicious word of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Hagia Sophia was reverted to its original status and reopened for worship. This decision also signifies the fulfillment of the will and endowment of Fatih Sultan Mehmed Khan.

Hagia Sophia is a structure that has been built in the same location three times. The current Hagia Sophia is known as the “Third Hagia Sophia”. The first construction of Hagia Sophia was initiated during the era of Emperor Constantine I, who accepted Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire.

In fact, during the period from the Latin invasion to the conquest of Istanbul, Hagia Sophia experienced its darkest times. Having been destroyed twice and rebuilt for the third time, Hagia Sophia faced the constant threat of collapse due to wars, rebellions, neglect, architectural flaws, and portions crumbling over the centuries until its conquest by Fatih Sultan Mehmed Khan. Furthermore, due to the Catholic-Orthodox sectarian conflict, the sociological and symbolic significance of the sanctuary suffered significant damage.

Starting from Fatih Sultan Mehmed Khan, every sultan endeavored to enhance Hagia Sophia’s beauty. Over time, additions such as the mihrab, minbar, pulpit, minarets, imperial lodge, ablution fountain, madrasa, library, and soup kitchen transformed Hagia Sophia into a complete complex. Additionally, during the Ottoman era, great emphasis was placed on the interior decorations of Hagia Sophia Mosque. Adorned with the finest examples of Turkish arts such as calligraphy and ceramics, Hagia Sophia gained new aesthetic values. Thus, Hagia Sophia was not only converted into a mosque but also preserved and revitalized as humanity’s shared heritage.”