The Importance of the Hagia Sophia Museum

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“Holy Wisdom”- that is what the most splendid and famous Byzantine church ever built means from Greek. This monument has been used as a temple dedicated to each of the two most dominant religions, but in present day it is an art museum. The great church is built on the foundations of previous churches from the Byzantine era, as well as a pagan temple.

Hagia Sophia itself is quite intricate and grand in its appearance, but the most spectacular part of it is the dome, measured thirty two meters in diameter. Moreover, the enormous church is beautiful because of the materials that it is made up of- multicolored marble blocks and stones (white, pink, green, yellow), columns, and mosaics ( noble metals, glass, etc. ). The museum is positioned where Constantinople previously stood- in Istanbul, the biggest and most populated city in the republic Turkey. Justinian I was the one responsible for its creation, with the help of Isidorus and Anthemius, who came up with the idea of how the cathedral is going to be and look like when finished. The cathedral was created from 532 CE to 537 CE, after the Nika riots took place in and were therefore silenced in 532 AD by Justinian.

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There are numerous reasons behind the building of Hagia Sophia- for one the Nika riots helped Justinian to create something even more striking as the destruction of the previous church gave him inspiration to do so. In this way Justinian not only showed his authority and true power to the people ruled by him, but also his and the empire’s connection with Christianity as a whole. This cathedral showed the true power Christianity holds over the other beliefs and practises, while it would also become the symbol of dominance of another world religion, known as Islam. The UNESCO should consider strongly the idea of giving protection to this marvelous piece of cultural heritage, in which melt the art styles and histories of both great empires and religions in peace, harmony, and great beauty.

This monument is also important simply because it has influenced the development of European, Muslim and Christian buildings and designs. There are several reasons behind the need for this monument to be under the protection of UNESCO. Firstly, the merge of different architectural features makes the cathedral truly “stick out” as a vital monument. An example to this may not only be the particularly specific supports of the massive dome- the pendentives, the intricate and colorful mosaics, but also the wooden minaret and minbars - which show the transition in the cathedral’s purpose during the Turkish empire times, but simultaneously gave it a charm like no other building in the world holds.

Secondly, Hagia Sophia is one of the few monuments that on a grand scale have had an influence on the art styles and features of a large majority of constructions- from military to religious. For instance, the monument gave the standard for domes in Muslim architecture- as in the progress “. . . Muslim architects developed enormous and varied types of domes…”

Muslim construction includes the Umayyad Masjid. Additionally, the church- museum should be protected by the organization because of its historical importance- as it was the main cathedral and mosque during Byzantine and Ottoman rule. Nowadays, this precious building is a museum, giving the public an opportunity to view the history and art of the early Middle Ages.

To conclude, I think that the “museum” should be under the protection of UNESCO because of a few reasons- the monument is very unique and “one-of-a-kind”, its architectural and art features are historically important, as well as the sole idea that the cathedral represents the peace between the two dominant world religions and the beauty through the variety.

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