Hagia Sophia
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Architect Isidoros and Anthemios
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Location Istanbul, Turkey   map
Date 532 to 537   timeline
Building Type church
 Construction System bearing masonry
Climate warm temperate
Context urban
Style Byzantine
Notes A tremendous domed space. Relieving arches and arched collonades.


Photo, exterior, end elevation

Photo, showing context from across the water



Plan Drawing

Section Drawing

Section Drawing

Section Drawing

Site Plan Drawing




More drawings available on The GBC CD-ROM.   Contributions appreciated

3D Model
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Discussion Hagia Sophia Commentary

"If there is one work that realizes the 'ideal' Byzantine model, it is the astonishing church of Hagia Sophia built as the new Cathedral of Constantinople by the Emperor Justinian...He intended it as the keystone of his vast architectural campaign...

"Hagia Sophia was built in the amazingly short time of five years...The daring of the design, and perhaps the speed of the construction, made the structure unstable. Its first dome fell after an earthquake, and its replacement (in 563, with a higher profile than the original) had to be repaired after partial collapses in the ninth and fourteenth centuries."

— Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture: from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. p171.

"The choice of plan was...decided and imposed by Justinian himself. Santa Sophia does not have the basilical plan generally adopted for large buildings, but is on the centralized pattern....

"The architectural form of Santa Sophia is concealed by the richness of decoration. The walls, from the ground up, are covered in identical manner. Plaques of red, yellow and green marble blend with the mosaics, and these are further embellished by the capitals, imposts, architraves and friezes."

— Mitchell Beazley. The World Atlas of Architecture. p180.


The church was built 532 to 537 and the dome replaced in 563 after an earthquake.

Sources on Hagia Sophia

Werner Blaser and Monica Stucky. Drawings of Great Buildings. Boston: Birkhauser Verlag, 1983. ISBN 3-7643-1522-9. LC 83-15831. NA2706.U6D72 1983. plan and section drawings, p49.

Francis D. K. Ching. Architecture: Form, Space, and Order. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1979. ISBN 0-442-21535-5. LC 79-18045. NA2760.C46. perspective sketch, p26. plan and section, p212. — A nice graphic introduction to architectural ideas. Updated 1996 edition available at Amazon.com

Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. nine squares diagram, p188. — Updated edition available at Amazon.com

Howard Davis. Slide from photographer's collection. PCD 2260.1012.0218.

Spiro Kostof. A History of Architecture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. ISBN 0-19-503472-4. LC 84-25375. NA200.K65 1985. p262, 263, fig 11.27, 11.28.

John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of the World. London: Mitchell Beazley Publishers, 1975. photos, cutaway drawings, p84-85. Reprint edition: Da Capo Press, April 1991. ISBN 0-3068-0436-0. — An accessible, inspiring and informative overview of world architecture, with lots of full-color cutaway drawings, and clear explanations. Available at Amazon.com

John Julius Norwich, ed. The World Atlas of Architecture. New York: Portland House, 1988. ISBN 0-517-66875-0. p180.

G. E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3556-2. distant photo, p36, interior photo of dome, 37. — Available at Amazon.com

Henri Stierlin. Comprendre l'Architecture Universelle 1. Paris: Office du Livre S.A. Fribourg (Suisse), 1977. longitudinal section drawing, p111. transverse section drawing, p111. plan drawing, p110. nsite plan drawing of constantinople in the byzantine period, p109.

Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture, from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1986. ISBN 0-13-044702-1. NA200.T7. p171-174.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at Amazon.com

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