Hagia Sophia Turkey
Where space creates supports multiple functions
and communicates purpose
Hagia Sophia has been the servant of three very different messages throughout its nearly 1,500-year history. It was a cathedral from the year 537, when it was completed by Byzantine ruler Justinian I, until the Ottoman Empire invaded in 1453 and converted it to a mosque. When this occurred, Hagia Sophia’s Christian imagery and icons were erased and replaced with Muslim analogues. It was a mosque until it closed in 1931. Four years later, through the leadership of the Turkish President, Hagia Sophia reopened as a museum and became a medium of history, rather than religion. Its design evolved to accommodate visitors, who still come to see relics of Christian and Muslim civilizations under the same roof, sometimes side by side. In 1985, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Five centuries of redesign have enabled leaders to communicate different messages and serve different purposes, all through the same space.