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Photographer's Note

view of Hagia Sophia II


Hagia Sophia is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. Of great artistic value was its decorated interior with mosaics and marble pillars and coverings. The temple itself was so richly and artistically decorated that Justinian proclaimed, "Solomon, I have outdone thee!" (Νενίκηκά σε Σολομών). Justinian himself had overseen the completion of the greatest cathedral ever built up to that time, and it was to remain the largest cathedral for 1,000 years up until the completion of the cathedral in Seville in Spain.

Justinian's basilica was at once the culminating architectural achievement of late antiquity and the first masterpiece of Byzantine architecture. Its influence, both architecturally and liturgically, was widespread and enduring in the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Muslim worlds alike. The largest columns are of granite, about 19 or 20 metres high and at least 1.5 metres in diameter; the largest weigh well over 70 tons apiece. Under Justinian's orders, eight Corinthian columns were disassembled from Baalbek, Lebanon and shipped to Constantinople for the construction of Hagia Sophia.

The vast interior has a complex structure. The nave is covered by a central dome which has a maximum diameter of 31.24 metres (102 ft 6 in) and a height from floor level of 55.6 metres (182 ft 5 in), about one fourth smaller and greater, respectively, than the dome of the Pantheon. The dome seems rendered weightless by the unbroken arcade of 40 arched windows under it, which help flood the colourful interior with light. Due to consecutive repairs in the course of its history, the dome has lost its perfect circular base and has become somewhat elliptical with a diameter varying between 31.24 m (102 ft 6 in) and 30.86 m (101 ft 3 in).

The dome is carried on pendentives — four concave triangular sections of masonry which solve the problem of setting the circular base of a dome on a rectangular base.[15] At Hagia Sophia the weight of the dome passes through the pendentives to four massive piers at the corners. Between them the dome seems to float upon four great arches. These were reinforced with buttresses during Ottoman times, under the guidance of the architect Mimar Sinan.

At the western (entrance) and eastern (liturgical) ends, the arched openings are extended by half domes carried on smaller semi-domed exedras. Thus a hierarchy of dome-headed elements builds up to create a vast oblong interior crowned by the main dome, a sequence unexampled in antiquity. Despite all these measures, the weight of the dome remained a problem, which was solved by adding buttresses from the outside.

All interior surfaces are sheathed with polychrome marbles, green and white with purple porphyry and gold mosaics, encrusted upon the brick. This sheathing camouflaged the large pillars, giving them, at the same time, a brighter aspect.

On the exterior, simple stuccoed walls reveal the clarity of massed vaults and domes. The yellow and red colour of the exterior was added by the architect Fossati during the restorations in the 19th century.

yeln, vasilpro, papagolf21, josepmarin, yedirenk, paura, Cretense, danos, paololg, PaulVDV has marked this note useful

Photo Information
  • Copyright: Costantino Topas (COSTANTINO) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4213 W: 19 N: 6062] (47726)
  • Genre: Places
  • Medium: Color
  • Date Taken: 2010-04-24
  • Categories: Architecture
  • Exposure: f/3.5, 1/8 seconds
  • More Photo Info: view
  • Photo Version: Original Version
  • Date Submitted: 2010-04-27 10:03
Viewed: 1443
Points: 50
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Additional Photos by Costantino Topas (COSTANTINO) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4213 W: 19 N: 6062] (47726)
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