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The many lives of Saint Sophy

Sainte Sophie

One of the iconic monuments of Istanbul, Saint Sophy reflects the history of the strategic place that was Constantinople. The first church probably dated from the 4th century when the city was founded, but the present edifice, which was the largest church in the world for several centuries, was built in the 6th century. It followed the oriental rite until the city was taken during the 4th crusade in 1204 and was converted to a Roman catholic church until 1261 when the Byzantines reclaimed it. It then became a mosque when the Turks captured the city in 1453. In 1934, Mustapha Kemal decided Saint Sophy should become a museum, which has enabled millions of visitors to admire this unequalled masterpiece. In July 2020, the decree of 1934 was abolished by President Erdogan, and Saint Sophy is again a mosque.

NB: Although Turkey is not, stricto sensu, in Europe, it felt more logical to include this lecture in the lectures in Europe than in Asia.

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