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Justinian's Church Justinian's Church
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Justinian's Church

Only a short time after the destruction of the second church, Justinian the Great suppressed the riots, and set about rebuilding what was damaged and destroyed.
He commissioned two men, Anthemius of Tralles and the Elder Isidore of Miletus to build a third church at the same location which would be greater than its previous predecessors. Anthemius and Isidore were not referred as architects, but they were called “mechanikoi” which means the masters of the science of the mechanics. Indeed, Anthemius was a mathematician and physicist, and Isidore was a professor of geometry and mechanics. None of them is known to have any building experience before Hagia Sophia. However, they created one of the most significant monuments on earth.

The construction started only a short while after the end of the Nika Revolt. Many materials had been brought from all over the empire, including yellow stone from Syria, porphyry from Egypt and Hellenic Columns from the Artemis Temple in Ephesus. More than ten thousand people worked for the construction and the third church was inaugurated by the emperor on 27 December 537. The mosaics were finished later on, during the reign of Justin II (565-578).

Several earthquakes happened and gave damaged to Hagia Sophia. The earthquakes on August 553 and December 557 caused cracks in the main dome and the eastern half-dome, and with the earthquake on 7 May 558, the main dome collapsed completely while destroying the ambon, the altar and the ciborium over it. This time it was Isodorus the Younger, the nephew of Isidore of Miletus, who was going to rebuild the dome. He elevated the dome by 6,25 meters, which got its current height today , totally 55,6 meters. With the presidency of the Patriarch Eutcyhius, the cathedral opened again on 23 December 562. It became the seat of the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, also imperial ceremonies were held there.
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Justinian's Church - Hagia Sophia


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