Religious structure in Istanbul, now a museum.
The Aya Sofya (also known by its Greek name, Hagia Sophia) was built by the Roman emperor Constantine from 325 to 330 c.e. during his rebuilding of the city of Byzantium as his capital. It was built as a Christian church, the cathedral of Constantinople (now Istanbul), for the first Roman emperor to espouse that faith. The present structure dates from the sixth century, when the cathedral was rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Justinian. In 1453, the Ottomans conquered the city and transformed the church into a mosque. In 1935, the new Republic of Turkey transformed it again, this time into a museum. The Aya Sofya served as the inspiration for several mosques built during the Ottoman Empire, including Süleymaniye Mosque, designed by Sinan, and the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (popularly known as the Blue mosque).
see also mosque; ottoman empire; sultan ahmet mosque.