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Hagia Sophia or Holy Wisdom is the mother church of all Eastern Christians of the Byzantine liturgical tradition both Orthodox and Greek Catholic. Early accounts suggest that the site of this, the grandest church in Christendom, in the first millennium had been the site of a pagan temple appropriated for the service of the new religion. The first church on the site was built by the Eastern Roman Emperor Constantius, son of Emperor Constantine, who had liberated the Christian faith from centuries of persecution. Constantius' church was consecrated in 360 AD.

Hagia Sophia was first named "Megale Ekklesia" (The Great Church) as it was the largest church in Constantinople (Istanbul today). The historian Socrates indicated that the church was named Sophia during the reign of Emperor Constantius. The name given to the church symbolized the second divine attribute of the Holy Trinity. Originally, Sophia, which means "Holy Wisdom", was a name given to Christ by 4th century theologians. For centuries it stood at the heart of two of the world's great religions: To Christians it was Hagia Sophia, Church of the Holy Wisdom, mother church of the Orthodox faith, and of the thousand year old Byzantine Empire. To Muslims, it became Ayasofya Camii, Mosque of Holy Wisdom and jewel of Istanbul. Today its one of the two most important Museums in Turkey.

PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K20D, f/22, 30 sec (30), ISO 100, 29.4 mm

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Additional Photos by Lucie CzNLUkKw (lucinka) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 368 W: 135 N: 1821] (9976)
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