The Holy Wisdom Church
In the 6th century three of these churches were built and this is the third one, the first two being destroyed. It remains the 2nd largest building in modern Turkey. Aghia Sophia is in the city of Constantinople which the conquering Turks renamed as Istanbul.
It is an engineering marvel which dates back to the 6th century and although huge was made without the use of steel.
It is 270' long, 173' wide and the dome is 108 ft. in diameter; the crown rises 180 ft. above the pavement; and it took 6 yrs. to construct. Windows immediately beneath the roof cause the roof to appear to be suspended and floating in the air. This was the largest and among the most beautiful church building for a thousand years, and is the oldest in Christendom. In its glory it was one of the largest and most adorned churches in the world.
During its more active period there were 80 Priests, 150 Deacons, 60 Sub-deacons, 160 Readers, 25 cantors, and 75 doorkeepers. This church became a model for many other churches and for mosques. Moslems saw its beautiful dome and copied it for their mosques. It is filled with beautiful marbles. So wonderful is this 1400 year old church, which was an Orthodox cathedral church from 537 to 1453. After 1453 the conquering Turks stripped away much of the church’s icons and other artwork, then changed the church into a mosque which remained so until 1931 It was than closed for four years and in 1935 it was reopened as a museum which it remains
This magnificent building is known throughout the world and attracts 3.3 million visitors annually. It retains a 49 ft. iconostasis, which is made of silver. It is sometimes called by people as St. Sophia church, but it is correctly called the Aghia (Holy) Sophia (Wisdom),that is the church or temple of the Holy Wisdom. This ancient Temple having been preserved since the sixth century, will, according to prophecy, be returned to the Orthodox Church, no longer will it be desecrated as a mosque or museum. The holy and divine Liturgy will again be continually celebrated in Aghia Sophia when it returns to Orthodoxy.