Hagia Sophia Architecture Facts – The Hagia Sophia, whose name means “holy wisdom,” is a domed monument originally built as a cathedral in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) in the sixth century A.D. It contains two floors centered on a giant nave that has a great dome ceiling, along with smaller domes, towering above.
“Hagia Sophia’s dimensions are formidable for any structure not built of steel,” writes Helen Gardner and Fred Kleiner in their book “Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History.” “In plan it is about 270 feet [82 meters] long and 240 feet [73 meters] wide. The dome is 108 feet [33 meters] in diameter and its crown rises some 180 feet [55 meters] above the pavement.”
In its 1,400 year life-span it has served as a cathedral, mosque and now a museum. When it was first constructed, Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine Empire. This state, officially Christian, originally formed the eastern half of the Roman Empire and carried on after the fall of Rome.