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Sultanahmet Meydanı, Istanbul, , Turkey

The greatest surviving example of Byzantine architecture and one of the eight wonders of the world, Hagia Sophia reigned as the greatest church in Christendom from the fourth century to the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. Once Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror had taken power, he promptly converted the church to a mosque, plastering over the extraordinary mosaics depicting Christ and his cohort and replacing them with images of the Prophet’s children. It was only in the 1930s, when the site was turned into a museum, that these dazzling original artworks were uncovered and refurbished. You can see them today—along with the site’s spectacularly ornate marble interiors, carved stone arches, and jaw-dropping (almost 183-foot-high) central dome.  

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Hagia Sophia

The greatest surviving example of Byzantine architecture and one of the eight wonders of the world, Hagia Sophia reigned as the greatest church in Christendom from the fourth century to the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. Once Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror had taken power, he promptly converted the church to a mosque, plastering over the extraordinary mosaics depicting Christ and his cohort and replacing them with images of the Prophet’s children. It was only in the 1930s, when the site was turned into a museum, that these dazzling original artworks were uncovered and refurbished. You can see them today—along with the site’s spectacularly ornate marble interiors, carved stone arches, and jaw-dropping (almost 183-foot-high) central dome.